Well, the Oscars are over. That means it’s time for the Food Oscars™, as James Beard Awards season kicks into gear. Nominees have been announced and there’s an array of great chefs, bakers, restaurateurs, writers, and bartenders across America to celebrate.
To entice your senses, we’ve put together a visual tour of the nominees for the Best New Restaurant and Rising Star Chef of the Year. It’s only a small taste of the (very) long list of nominees across every part of the food business. But, for us, these are some of the tastiest bits.
Before we jump in, we have to give a special shoutout to friend-to-Uproxx, Chef Sean Sherman on his nod for the ground-breaking cookbook, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen! Now… on to the food porn!
NOMINEES FOR BEST NEW RESTAURANT
The Charter Oak — St. Helena, CA
The Charter Oak is one of the premier destinations in the Napa Valley, serving local and seasonal food, family style. Chefs Christopher Kostow (three Michelin stars) and Katianna Hong work closely with co-owner Nathanial Dorn to create a wholly Napa experience for diners with a decisively Italian menu filtered through the wine region’s distinct terroir and rolling hills.
Empellón Midtown — NYC
Chef Alex Stupak’s three Empellón locations throughout Manhattan are beautiful examples of the new wave of haute-Mexican cuisine that’s starting to break into the American scene. Chef Stupak’s Midtown location snagged the honor this year for his refined take on tacos, guacamole, and tamales with a distinctly cosmopolitan New York vibe.
The pastrami tacos are not to be missed.
Felix Trattoria — Venice, CA
The subtle art of a great plate (or bowl) of pasta is the life’s pursuit of Chef Evan Funke. At Felix Trattoria that pursuit becomes the diner’s journey through classic Italian dishes taken up to eleven. As artfully made as the pasta is, don’t sleep on the wood-fired pizzas though. They’ll transport you straight to the streets of Napoli with a single bite.
JuneBaby — Seattle
Chef Edouardo Jordan’s JuneBaby takes West African traditions and filters them through the lulling Spanish Moss of the American South, with a hint of Seattle’s misty streets. The southern restaurant focuses on elevating soul food dishes while dearly holding onto the heart of those foods.
While expertly crafted soul food may not be the first cuisine that comes to mind when you think “Seattle,” after JuneBaby it may well be.
Kismet — Los Angeles
Chefs Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer’s Kismet is bringing Midwest family-style cuisine into the Los Angeles scene with a clear-eyed California wine country twist. The menu focuses heavily on local, small farming practices with small plates to share and is absolutely Instagram-chic.
NOMINEES FOR RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
Camille Cogswell, Zahav — Philadelphia
Zahav is Philadelphia’s best Israeli restaurant. Part of what makes it so (justifiably) revered comes from the head pastry chef, Camille Cogswell. Zahav’s dessert menu is small but precise with delicious treats to end a perfect meal.
Clare de Boer, King — NYC
Chef Clare de Boer works with Chef Jess Shadbolt at New York’s King. This year Chef de Boer snagged a Rising Star nomination for her work in bringing the food from that sweet spot along the Mediterranean between the French and Italian Rivieras to New York.
It’s lush and comforting food from one of the best corners of the world for food. You can’t go wrong.
Sarah Rinkavage, Marisol — Chicago
Chef Sarah Rinkavage is the chef de cuisine at the art-centric Marisol in Chicago. The menu Chef Rinkavage and head Chef Jason Hammel create is distinctly New American with loving nods to Mexico, the eastern Mediterranean, and Italy.
Given the level of artistry displayed by Chef Rinkavage at Marisol, we can’t wait to see where her career takes her next.
Miles Thompson, Michael’s — Santa Monica, CA
Michael’s is a sanctuary amongst the hustle of Santa Monica. Executive Chef Miles Thompson and his team are carrying on the long history of Michael’s into the 21st century with a well-pointed menu of New American delights that lovingly references cuisines from around the globe. The restaurant is a classic and remains so thanks to Chef Thompson’s skills.
Kevin Tien, Himitsu — Washington, D.C.
Chef Kevin Tien’s chic hole-in-the-wall in Northwest DC, Himitsu, is modern Japanese by way of Southeast Asia and Latin America. The plates are bright. The atmosphere is hip. And the young chef behind it all is only getting started.