Welcome to Beard season, that time of year when food world accolades are bestowed by the James Beard Foundation. Today, the organization announced its long list of semifinalists for the prestigious chef and restaurant awards. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, and winners will be celebrated during a ceremony on Monday, June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The list includes 18 nominees in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They include classics—longstanding Ris in West End for Outstanding Restaurant—and new hotspots like ambitious Bar Spero near Penn Quarter and Peruvian tasting room Causa in Shaw for Best New Restaurant. As always, the Best Chef category is the most locally competitive with nine nominees.
Check out the DC-area contenders below, and find full list on the James Beard Foundation site.
A restaurateur who uses their establishment(s) as a vehicle for building community, demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations, and is making efforts to create a sustainable work culture, while contributing positively to their broader community.
- Michael Reginbogin and Jason Berry, KNEAD Hospitality + Design (Mi Vida, Succotash, and Gatsby)
A chef who sets high culinary standards and has served as a positive example for other food professionals, while contributing positively to their broader community.
- Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster
A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community.
- Ris by Ris Lacoste
A chef who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come, while contributing positively to their broader community.
- Elias Taddesse, Mélange
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened between January 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022, that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community, and seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come. Those establishments that have opened after September 30, 2022, can be considered for the 2024 awards.
- Bar Spero
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
The former Outstanding Pastry Chef and Outstanding Baker categories have been combined into one, Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. This category recognizes a pastry chef or baker who makes desserts, pastries, or breads. Candidate demonstrates exceptional skills and can be affiliated with any food business and does not need a brick-and-mortar presence. Candidate contributes positively to their broader community.
- Kareem Queeman, Mr. Bake (Riverdale, MD)
Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program
Expanded from Outstanding Wine Program this year to include other beverages, this award is presented to a restaurant that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the pairing of wine and other beverages with food while contributing positively to its broader community. This includes the selection, preparation, and serving of wine, cocktails, spirits, coffee, tea, beer or any other beverage with outstanding hospitality and service that helps inform and enhance a customer’s appreciation of the beverage(s). Ethical sourcing and positive contributions to the broader community will also be considered.
- Flight Wine Bar
Expanded to include wine and other beverages, this award is presented to a wine bar, beer bar, cocktail bar, coffee bar, or any other business whose primary offering is beverage and that demonstrates consistent excellence in curating a selection or in the preparation of drinks, along with outstanding atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
- · Joy Crump, FOODE, Fredericksburg, VA
- · David Deshaies, L’Ardente, Washington, D.C.
- · Rahman “Rock” Harper, Queen Mother’s Fried Chicken, Arlington, VA
- · Enrique Limardo, Seven Reasons, Washington, D.C.
- · Peter Prime, Bammy’s, Washington, D.C.
- · Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.
- · Ryan Ratino, Bresca, Washington, D.C.
- · Omar Rodriguez, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, D.C.
- · Kevin Tien, Moon Rabbit, Washington, D.C.