James Beard 2023 semifinalists for chef, restaurant awards announced

The James Beard Foundation has named its 2023 semifinalists for the organization’s Restaurant and Chef Awards. 

The awards, the Oscars of the food world, recognize “exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” the organization said in a release Wednesday.

The list of semifinalists includes dozens of chefs and restaurants from across the country in 23 categories. Nominees in the national and regional categories run the gamut from established chefs and fine-dining restaurants to newcomers and mom-and-pops. A new category, outstanding bakery, was added this year. 

Here are some highlights from the James Beard 2023 semifinalist announcement: 

What is a Michelin star? Here’s what to expect at a restaurant with the badge of honor.

When are the James Beard Awards?

On Wednesday, the Beard Foundation announced semi-finalists. On March 29, the finalists will be revealed. In June, winners will be announced. The keystone event, the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony, is scheduled for June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

12 Arizona chefs, restaurants named semifinalists

In 2022, Arizona brought home two major national James Beard Award wins: Chris Bianco won the award for Outstanding Restaurateur and Don Guerra was named Outstanding Baker.

This year, Arizona is well-represented on the list of semifinalists.

Best Chef — Southwest

  • Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, Bacanora in Phoenix.
  • Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, The Table at Junipine in Sedona.
  • Nephi Craig, Café Gozhóó in Whiteriver.
  • Wendy Garcia, Tumerico in Tucson.
  • Fernando Hernández, Testal in Phoenix.
  • Yotaka and Alex Martin, Lom Wong in Phoenix.

Outstanding Chef

  • Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café in Phoenix.

Outstanding Restaurant

  • Proper Meats + Provisions in Flagstaff.

Emerging Chef 

  • Christian Lowe, Shift Kitchen & Bar in Flagstaff. 

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Crystal Kass, Valentine in Phoenix.

Outstanding Bakery

  • JL Patisserie in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

— Bahar Anooshahr, Arizona Republic

Mississippi restauranteurs get best chef South nods

Two Jackson restaurants and an Ocean Springs restaurant have been named semifinalists in this year’s prestigious James Beard Awards.

Best Chef — South

  • Hunter Evans, Elvie’s in the Belhaven area
  • Alex Perry, Kumi Omori; Vestige in Ocean Springs

Best New Restaurant

  • Sambou’s African Kitchen, Jackson

— Joshua Williams, Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Three New Jersey chefs named semifinalists

South Jersey is well represented among the James Beard Foundation 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists with three chefs making the list in the Outstanding Chef and Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

Outstanding Chef

  • Shigeru Fukuyoshi, Sagami Japanese in Collingswood

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

  • Philip Manganaro, Park Place Café and Restaurant in Merchantville
  • Melissa McGrath, Sweet Amalia Market & Kitchen in Newfield

— Celeste E. Whittaker, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Chefs on James Beard Best Chef New York State semifinalist list

New York has its own category “Best Chef New York State” and the semifinalist list includes around 20 chefs.

Best Chef New York State

  • Gerardo Alcaraz, Aldama in Brooklyn
  • Nasim Alikhani, Sofreh in Brooklyn
  • Mary Attea, The Musket Room in New York, NY
  • Giovanni Cervantes, Taqueria Ramírez in Brooklyn
  • Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy in New York, NY 
  • Calvin Eng, Bonnie’s in Brooklyn
  • Shenarri Freeman, Cadence in New York, NY
  • Charles Gabriel, Charles Pan-Fried Chicken in New York, NY
  • Anthony Gonçalves, Kanopi in White Plains
  • Sol Han, LittleMad in New York, NY 
  • JJ Johnson, FIELDTRIP in New York, NY 
  • Sohui Kim, Gage & Tollner in Brooklyn
  • Shaina Loew-Banayan, Cafe Mutton in Hudson
  • Paolo Garcia Mendoza, Karenderya in Nyack
  • Ayesha Nurdjaja, Shukette in New York, NY 
  • Junghyun Park, Atomix in New York, NY 
  • Franco Sampogna, Frevo in New York, NY 
  • Eric See, Ursula in Brooklyn
  • Hillary Sterling, Ci Siamo in New York, NY 
  • Sohail Zandi, Brushland Eating House in Bovina

The state and in particular, New York City, is represented in other categories such as Emerging Chef and Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker,  Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, Outstanding Bar and Outstanding Restaurant.

Cincinnati, Ohio restaurants have bombshell year

Cincinnati restaurants and chefs scored big in the semifinalist round Wednesday. It’s no doubt a welcome change for a city that is often overlooked and underrepresented. This year, semifinalists in Cincinnati include nominees in the Best Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Chef or Baker and Best Chef, Great Lakes. 

Best Restaurant

Best New Restaurant

  • Nolia Kitchen, Cincinnati

Outstanding Chef or Baker

  • Elaine Uykimpang Bentz, Cafe Mochiko in East Walnut Hills

Best Chef — Great Lakes

  • Francisco Alfaro, Mid-City Restaurant in Cincinnati
  • Hideki and Yuko Harada, Kiki in College Hill

— Keith Pandolfi, Cincinnati Enquirer

Memphis chocolatier Phillip Rix a semifinalist

Memphis chef and chocolatier Phillip Rix of Phillip Ashley Chocolates has been named one of three semifinalists for the James Beard Awards Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker in the Southeast Region.

Known as Memphis’ own Willy Wonka, Rix’s chocolate bonbons come in unexpected flavors such as Collard Greens, Sweet Potato and Barbecue.

— Jennifer Chandler, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Wisconsin semifinalists named in 6 categories

Chefs, restaurants and restaurateurs from Milwaukee, Madison and Door County are semifinalists for James Beard Awards in six categories. 

Best New Restaurant

  • Lupi and Iris, Milwaukee

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Amy and Jason Kerstein, Joe Muench and Dan Sidner of Black Shoe Hospitality which operates Story Hill BKC, Buttermint Finer Dining & Cocktails and Maxie’s.

Outstanding Restaurant

  • Wickman House, Ellison Bay

Emerging Chef

  • Jamie Hoang, Ahan in Madison

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Andrew Hutchison, Madison Sourdough in Madison

Best Chef — Midwest

  • Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv in Milwaukee
  • Gregory León, Amilinda in Milwaukee
  • Francesco Mangano, Osteria Papavero in Madison
  • Itaru Nagano and Andrew Kroeger, Fairchild in Madison

— Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For the full list of semifinalists, visit the James Beard Foundation’s website.

Check out these recipes to up your kitchen game: 

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