Here Are the DC Area James Beard Award Nominees for 2020

The show will go on.

Despite the tattered, tenuous state of, well, everything, but especially the national restaurant industry, the 30th annual James Beard Awards are still happening. Nominees for the awards—the most prestigious honors restaurants and chefs can get in the States—were announced on Twitter earlier this afternoon. 

DC had a big showing on the list of semi-finalists released back in February. Only a few chefs, though, have made it to the final round. The biggest news is that Paola Velez, who creates wondrous desserts at Kith and Kin (and is the cover star for our latest 100 Best Restaurants issue) is up for “rising star”—that’s an awards category that rarely includes a pastry chef. Kith and Kin’s chef/owner Kwame Onwuachi took the same award home last year. Speaking of Kwame, his excellent memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef, is up for an award in writing.

The only other nomination in a national category is Jose Andres’s Jaleo in Penn Quarter (no mention was made of its suburban locations)—a candidate for one of the biggest honors, the “outstanding restaurant” award. 

Amy Brandwein of Centrolina in CityCenterDC, Jon Sybert of Adams Morgan’s Tail Up Goat, and Cindy Wolfe of Baltimore’s Charleston are up for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. (Wolfe and Brandwein were nominees last year, too.) 

The Washington Post made a strong showing across the journalism categories. Annie Gowen is up for a feature reporting award for her series on the crisis of American farmers in Trump’s America. Tim Carman and Shelly Tan are nominated in the “innovative storytelling” category for their exploration of the roots of four American dishes. Amy Brittain and Maura Judkis got an investigative reporting nod for their piece on the victims of a serial groper who was also a local chef. And M. Carrie Allen’s lovely rumination on happy hour is up for best short-form personal essay (fun fact: she and Carman are married). In the “television program in a studio or fixed location” category, you’ll find Pati Jinich’s Pati’s Mexican Table. 

This caps a big day on the awards circuit. Nominations for locally focused restaurant awards the Rammys—along with the Pulitzers—were announced earlier today. GQ’s Brett Martin also included the Shaw bar Hanumanh in his annual roundup of the best restaurants in the country.

The blowout 30th anniversary Beard Awards gala, where the restaurant and chef winners are announced, was originally scheduled to take place tonight in Chicago. The new date for that celebration is September 25. The journalism winners will be announced May 27. Check out the full list of nominees here.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.