2024 James Beard Award Winners

The prestigious James Beard Awards, often referred to as the Oscars of the food world, were recently announced, celebrating chefs and restaurants that have been overlooked in the past for their culinary achievements in the United States.

One of the winners, Chef Serigne Mbaye from Dakar NOLA, was awarded the Best New Restaurant for his modern Senegalese tasting menu that blends his West African roots with New Orleans ingredients. Mbaye expressed his pride in representing West Africa in the culinary world.

Another standout winner was Langbaan in Portland, Oregon, which won the Outstanding Restaurant award for its innovative take on classic Thai food using Pacific Northwest ingredients. Michael Rafidi, the Outstanding Chef winner, dedicated his award to the Palestinian people, showcasing his creative twists on traditional Arabic cuisine at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Albi, in Washington, DC.

The 2024 winners brought diverse heritages from countries like the Philippines, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Vietnam, and Senegal to American tables, bringing recognition to restaurants in smaller towns and states that have not historically been acknowledged with James Beard Awards.

Among the winners were Masako Morishita, an Emerging Chef Award recipient for her Japanese comfort food at Perry’s in Washington, DC, and Atsuko Fujimoto, who won the Outstanding Baker award for her work at Norimoto Bakery in Portland, Maine.

The awards ceremony also addressed important issues facing the restaurant industry and wider culture, such as climate change, sustainability, inclusivity, and mental health. The evening saw achievement awards presented to notable figures like Ruth Reichl, a legendary food writer, editor, and novelist, who was honored for her lifetime contributions to American food culture.

The James Beard Foundation, established in 1986, aims to celebrate and elevate the people behind America’s food culture. Despite facing controversy in recent years, the foundation has introduced new policies and procedures to address diversity and ethical concerns in the industry.

The winners expressed hope that the culinary culture will continue to improve, emphasizing the importance of diversity, inclusion, and sustainable practices in the industry. The evening celebrated not only the culinary achievements of the winners but also their contributions to a more ethical and inclusive food culture in the United States.

Overall, the 2024 James Beard Award winners represent a diverse and talented group of chefs and restaurants making a significant impact on the culinary world.