Tonight is the annual awards gala for the James Beard Foundation, and as usual New Orleans is well represented on the slate of nominees for these highly-touted honors.
Eight chefs or establishments in New Orleans are up for awards in various categories. New Orleans nominees hold three of the five slots for the regional award for best chef, and two of the five slots for the national award for best bar.
Winners will be revealed during the event tonight (May 2) in Chicago, beginning at 6 p.m.
Most of the local nominees are familiar with the road toward these awards, having nabbed similar nominations in the past or having won earlier James Beard awards in different categories.
Here are the locals to look for as the awards ceremony unfolds tonight:
Donald Link picked up his third consecutive nomination for this award. The Louisiana native and his restaurant group have won numerous James Beard awards in the past, and in 2014 his Pêche Seafood Grill won the national award for Best New Restaurant.
Best New Restaurant
Shaya, the modern Israeli restaurant from chef Alon Shaya and the Besh Restaurant Group, has been a magnet for honors since opening last year, and its drawn another with this nomination for Best New Restaurant. Last year, Alon Shaya was the only New Orleans chef to bring home a James Beard Award, winning the group’s regional award for Best Chef: South.
Best Chef: South
New Orleans chefs nabbed three of the five slots in this regional award category:
Justin Devillier, of La Petite Grocery
Slade Rushing, of Brennan’s Restaurant
Isaac Toups, of Toups’ Meatery
They join Vishwesh Bhatt, of Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi and Jose Enrique, of Jose Enrique in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the running.
Outstanding Bar Program
Outstanding Wine Program
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.