The James Beard Foundation announced semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards in a press release on January 25. Among the nominees were a number of restaurateurs and chefs who graced BA’s list of the 50 Best New Restaurants of 2022. Those semifinalists include Yenvy and Quynh Pham, the Seattle duo behind a small empire of pho shops and the cocktail bar Phởcific Standard Time, as well as Amanda Shulman of Her Place Supper Club in Philadelphia and Ayo Balogun of Dept. of Culture in Brooklyn. Shaina Loew-Banayan, the owner of Cafe Mutton, one of BA’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2022, was also nominated in the category of Best Chef: New York State.
The Foundation grants awards to chefs, restaurateurs, bar owners, media professionals, authors, and other influential figures in the food and hospitality space. Alongside the Michelin guide and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the James Beard awards are seen as one of the highest honors in the restaurant industry.
This year’s awards will feature the first-ever honorees in a new Outstanding Bakery category. Honorees for this award will be recognized for exemplary breads, pastries, or desserts. The first crop of semifinalists include New York City’s She Wolf Bakery; Haymaker Bun Company, in Middlebury, Vermont; and Yoli Tortilleria, a tortilla producer in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the past several years, the foundation has been criticized for a lack of transparency and diversity. The year 2023 marks the start of the second James Beard Awards following an internal audit of the foundation’s methodology. The organization announced it would not name honorees for 2020 and 2021 in the first year of the pandemic, with the stated goal of reworking their methodology for selecting winners—though The New York Times later reported that the decision came after not a single Black chef was to be recognized in 2020. This year’s honorees will be selected through the foundation’s new protocols for scouting and nominations, including greater BIPOC representation among judges and committee members, and an overhauled grievance system to handle nominee misconduct allegations.
Read the full list of semifinalists below, and check back on March 29 for the foundation’s list of finalists and on June 5 for the Restaurant and Chef Award winners.