Chef Jeremiah Langhorne of the Dabney has won the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic—one of the highest accolades in the American hospitality industry.
The Shaw-based chef won over two other local talents in one of the most competitive categories of the awards, which were hosted in Chicago on Monday night by The Chew’s Carla Hall. Other DC finalists included Centrolina’s Amy Brandwein and Tom Cunanan of Bad Saint. Cindy Wolf of Baltimore’s Charleston restaurant and Philadelphia-based chef Rich Landau (Fancy Radish) were also in the running.
In a separate category, chef Kevin Tien of Himitsu was a finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, a category reserved for those 30 and under. He lost to Camille Cogswell of Zahav in Philadelphia.
Langhorne’s award is fitting. The DC and Shenandoah Valley native has championed Mid-Atlantic cooking since opening the farmhouse-like Blagden Alley restaurant in 2015. Previously Langhorne served as chef de cuisine at Sean Brock’s lauded Charleston restaurant McCrady’s, which is known for its in-depth exploration of heritage Southern cuisine and ingredients. Langhorne has applied a similarly sharp focus to regional cooking around Washington, using a wood-fired hearth and classic techniques to prepare hyper-local dishes like Chesapeake sugar toads with buttermilk dressing and hot honey or charred cabbage bathed in foie gras hollandaise.
In his acceptance speech Langhorne thanked his business partners and restaurant team. He admitted to feeling “like a jerk” because he didn’t expect to win, and so hadn’t prepared with a statement.
“We really view every single day as an opportunity to make people happy, and I’m so grateful to have that opportunity every day,” said Langhorne.
The Mid-Atlantic category includes strong dining cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Richmond, among others. Locally chef Aaron Silverman was the last to win a Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award for Rose’s Luxury in 2016, joining Rasika’s Vikram Sunderam (2014) and Johnny Monis of Komi (2013) in the honor.
The theme of this year’s award ceremony was “RISE,” with chefs and restaurateurs celebrating the great diversity within the hospitality industry and the contributions made by all. True to message, José Andrés took the stage as this year’s recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year award for his extensive work with World Central Kitchen providing meals for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. He delivered a speech that drew the audience to their feet, and inspired commentator Francis Lam to declare “Jose 2020.”
“It seems that charity is too often about the redemption of the giver, when charity should be about the liberation of the receiver,” said Andrés, quoting DC Central Kitchen president Robert Egger. In his wide-ranging speech, Andrés thanked the contribution of unsung female heroes throughout history like Clara Barton; leading women chefs like Ann Cashion, Nora Pouillon, and Joan Nathan; Puerto Rican chef Jose Enrique, who was critical in disaster relief efforts; and the scores of immigrant restaurant industry workers, documented and no.
“We can improve the world one plate of food at a time,” said Andrés.
The food and beverage awards aren’t the only ones bestowed by the James Beard Foundation. In the media category, Michael W. Twitty won the Book of the Year and Writing categories for his book, The Cooking Gene; Pati Jinich took home the award for Outstanding Personality Host for Pati’s Mexican Table on WETA; and Maura Judkis was found the funniest of the Humor contenders for her Washington Post story, “Pumpkin Spice Life” (among other media winners).
A full list of 2018 James Beard Award winners can be found here.