Zahav wins the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious title
By Josh Petri / BLOOMBERG
Philadelphia’s dominance of the food world continues. Zahav, the city’s seminal Israeli dining spot, on recent Monday night won the title of outstanding restaurant at the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards in Chicago.
The other major winners of the night included Frenchette in New York, which won the Best New Restaurant award, and Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina, who was named America’s outstanding chef. Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of the Boka Restaurant Group empire in Chicago were named outstanding restaurateurs. “We have to figure out which of our restaurants can withstand a party until 6am,” crowed Boehm to the hometown crowd. Zahav was a front-runner for this year’s title.
Co-owner Michael Solomonov in 2017 won outstanding chef, and the restaurant’s pastry chef Camille Cogswell won rising star last year.
Chicago establishments in general fared well at this year’s event. The title of best baker went to Greg Wade at Publican Quality Bread, and Pacific Standard Time received an award for outstanding design. The city has hosted the awards since 2015 and is expected to do so through 2027.
Despite relentless buzz in the food world, Los Angeles was shut out of the major categories.
Michael Cimarusti of Providence in that city, named best chef in the West, was the sole winner. Women won in five of the 10 regional best chef categories, up from four last year. But women only featured in two national categories: Christensen as outstanding chef, and pastry chef Kelly Fields of Willa Jean in New Orleans. The Beard foundation has made a much publicised push for inclusivity with initiatives such as women’s leadership programmes and a chef’s boot camp for policy and change. Kwame Onwuachi, chef at Kith and Kin in Washington, DC, and the author of “Notes from a Young Black Chef”, was awarded rising star chef of the year.
More than 600 culinary professionals voted on the winners across 23 food, beverage and design categories. (Bloomberg’s food editor, Kate Krader, is on the James Beard Restaurant Committee panel.)
See the full list of winners below.
Best New Restaurant: Frenchette, NYC
A restaurant opened in 2018 that already displays excellence in food, beverage and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
Outstanding Baker: Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread, Chicago
A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries or breads served in a retail bakery. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.
Outstanding Bar Programme: Bar Agricole, San Francisco A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation and serving of cocktails, spirits and/or beer.
Outstanding Chef: Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, North Carolina A chef who sets high culinary standards and who has served as a positive example for other food professionals. Must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Kelly Fields, Willa Jean, New Orleans A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries or breads served in a restaurant. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.
Outstanding Restaurant: Zahav, Philadelphia A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, service and operations. Must have been in business 10 or more consecutive years.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago A restaurateur who demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations. Must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
Outstanding Service: Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado A restaurant in operation for five or more years that demonstrates consistency and exceptional thoughtfulness in hospitality and service.
Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional: Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co A beer, wine, or spirits producer who demonstrates consistency and exceptional skill in his or her craft.
Outstanding Wine Programme: Benu, San Francisco A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in wine service through a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin, Washington, DC A chef age 30 or younger who displays exceptional talent, character and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
Outstanding Design Awards
• 75 Seats and Under: Atomix, NYC; Firm: Studio Writers
• 76 Seats and Over: Pacific Standard Time, Chicago; Firm: Parts and Labour Design
• Other Eating and Drinking Places: El Pípila, San Francisco; Firm: Schwartz and Architecture (S^A)
• Design Icon Canlis, Seattle
Chefs who set high culinary standards and also demonstrate integrity and admirable leadership skills in their respective regions. A nominee may be from any kind of dining establishment, but must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region.
• Best Chef: Great Lakes Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute, Chicago
• Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint, Washington, DC
• Best Chef: Midwest Ann Kim, Young Joni, Minneapolis
• Best Chef: New York City Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, Via Carota
• Best Chef: Northeast Tony Messina, Uni, Boston
• Best Chef: Northwest Brady Williams, Canlis, Seattle
• Best Chef: South Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford
• Best Chef: Southeast Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah
• Best Chef: Southwest Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale
• Best Chef: West Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles. — Bloomberg