There were no Washington winners at the 2015 James Beard Awards, one of the most important accolades in the American restaurant industry, hosted in Chicago on Monday evening. Two DC chefs were among the finalists: Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground and Maketto, who was up for Rising Star of the Year, and Bread Furst’s Mark Furstenberg, nominated for the new category of Outstanding Baker.
Baltimore, on the other hand, received a win in one of the most prestigious categories: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen claimed the title, beating out fellow Charm City chef Cindy Wolf (Charleston), and several contenders from Philadelphia. Washington was shut out of the category this year, despite several strong contedners among the semifinalists.
Though Rasika chef Vikram Sunderdam took home the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award in 2014, Washington toques have never swept up at the Beards like their counterparts in New York or New Orleans. This year seemed particularly lacking in recognition, especially given the growing excitement—both local and national—over Washington’s food scene. As critic Todd Kliman explains in his new column, OtherWise, the issue may be rooted in the city’s lack of food identity, at least in the eyes of the Beards.
A complete list of the 2015 James Beard Award winners is available here.