James Beard Award Semifinalists Announced for D.C. Region

After a two-year hiatus to review bias in award selections, the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards – sometimes referred to as the “Oscars” of the restaurant world – have returned to issue their 2022 semifinalists list, with several nominees in the Washington, D.C. area.

Outstanding Chef nominations went to Peter Chang of Peter Chang’s in Virginia and Maryland and Cindy Wolf of Charleston Restaurant, Baltimore. Métier in D.C. received an Outstanding Restaurant nod. Best New Restaurant semifinalists were given to NiHao of Baltimore and Oyster Oyster of D.C.

Chef José Andrés of D.C. was nominated for Outstanding Bar Program for barmini. Anne Specker of Kinship in D.C. was selected Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalist.

D.C.-based Ashok Bajaj of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (Rasika, Bindaas, Annabelle, and others) was nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Local nominations for Best Chef from the Mid-Atlantic region went to:

Previous notable James Beard Award winners in the D.C. area include Best Chefs for the Mid-Atlantic, Tom Cunanan of Bad Saint in 2019, Jeremiah Langhorne of The Dabney in 2018 and Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury in 2016.

According to the James Beard Foundation website, James Beard was “anointed the ‘Dean of American cookery’ by the New York Times in 1954… [and] laid the groundwork for the food revolution that has put America at the forefront of global gastronomy. He was a pioneer foodie, host of the first food program on the fledgling medium of television in 1946, the first to suspect that classic American culinary traditions might cohere into a national cuisine, and an early champion of local products and markets. [He also] nurtured a generation of American chefs and cookbook authors who have changed the way we eat.”

In 2020, the New York Times reported that no Black chefs were nominated across all 23 categories for James Beard Awards and that concerns were raised about several nominees “accused of abuse and mistreatment” in the wake of the #MeToo movement, according to reporting by Elliot C. Williams of DCist. In response to these criticisms, however, the James Beard Foundation announced in a Wednesday press release that it has renewed its commitments to increasing “transparency and accessibility” and “continuing the work to remove bias” in its awards processes.

According to the James Beard Foundation, the organization has launched a series of socially responsible initiatives in the past decade, including women’s entrepreneurial leadership programs and a “Chefs’ Boot Camp for Policy and Change” with the goals of “establish[ing] a more equitable and sustainable food system through education, advocacy and thought leadership.” In the wake of the pandemic, the James Beard Foundation also launched the “Open for Good” campaign to “provide critical resources and support for independent restaurants to survive, build, and thrive.”

Winners of the James Beard 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on June 13.




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