It’s a big day for the restaurant industry: The 2022 James Beard Award chef and restaurant finalists have been announced.
The long list of semifinalists came out in February after a two-year hiatus for the James Beard Awards. The pandemic factored in, but a larger focus was on diversity and inclusion—or lack thereof—in the prestigious accolades, and a reimagining of the judging, voting, and nomination structure.
Washington talents placed in almost all eligible categories. Knightsbridge Restaurant Group founder Ashok Bajaj (Rasika, Bombay Club et al) is up for Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year. Peter Chang is a finalist for Outstanding Chef for his string of eponymous restaurants, Mama Chang, and Baltimore’s NiHao. Best New Restaurant could go to plant-based Shaw newcomer Oyster Oyster.
Meanwhile, chef Angel Barreto is up for awards in two categories for his cooking at Dupont Circle’s modern Korean restaurant, Anju—Emerging Chef and Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. The latter category also includes Centrolina chef/owner Amy Brandwein.
Washington’s drinking scene is also highlighted. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant Maydan is a finalist for Outstanding Wine Program. Meanwhile, Outstanding Bar Program could be awarded to barmini by José Andrés.
There were no DC-area contenders in a few national categories, including Outstanding Pastry Chef, Baker, or Hospitality. A few contenders were also omitted from the categories—not without controversy—because their restaurants had closed, or talent moved on. In DC, former Cane chef/partner Peter Prime was removed from the Best Chef Mid-Atlantic category after he stepped down from the Caribbean restaurant on H Street, Northeast.
Winners will be celebrated at a gala in Chicago on Monday, June 13. A full list of finalists is available here.