2024 James Beard Awards shine a light on underrepresented regions

2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards
2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards / Jeff Schear/GettyImages

As the best and brightest chefs from across the nation gathered in Chicago, the 2024 James Beard Awards continued a food conversation that began several years ago. This year’s slate of winners highlights regions, cultures, and conversations that deserve the spotlight.

While Michelin Stars might celebrate the restaurant, the James Beard Awards celebrate the chef, in addition to the restaurant. The organization and its celebration seek to celebrate satisfying food within America’s food culture. From highlighting outstanding culinary creativity in various regions to fostering conversations on diversity and equality, the James Beard Foundation wants to showcase both outstanding hospitality as well as the community that supports it.

With the 2024 James Beard Awards, the event proved that America’s food culture borrows from individuals’ history, community, and heritage. These chefs want to spark a conversation around the table. It is more than just an impeccable meal that is forgotten once the plates are cleared. The hope is that the meal invites guests to ask questions, change their perspective, and, hopefully, come back to experience the moment time and again.

Here is a list of the 2024 James Beard Awards winners announced on June 10, 2024.

Outstanding Chef presented by Hilton - Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant Presented by Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water - Langbaan, Portland, OR

Best New Restaurant presented by Clover from Fiserv - Dakar NOLA, New Orleans, LA

Outstanding Restaurateur - Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, ID EST (The Wolf's Tailor, BRUTØ, Basta, and others), Boulder, CO

Emerging Chef presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water - Masako Morishita, Perry's, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Bakery - ZU Bakery, Portland, ME

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker - Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME

Outstanding Hospitality presented by American Airlines - Lula Cafe, Chicago, IL

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program - Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Columbia, SC 

Outstanding Bar - Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA 

Best Chefs presented by Capital One (by region)

Best Chef: California - Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles, CA

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH) - Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, MI

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA) - Harley Peet, Bas Rouge, Easton, MD

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI) - Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis, MN

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY) - Matt Vawter, Rootstalk, Breckenridge, CO

Best Chef: New York State - Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill, Brooklyn, NY

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) - David Standridge, The Shipwright's Daughter, Mystic, CT

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA) - Gregory Gourdet, kann, Portland, OR

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR) - Valerie Chang, Maty's, Miami, FL

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)  - Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, WV

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK) - Rene Andrade, Bacanora, Phoenix, AZ

Best Chef: Texas -Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, TX

A few years ago, no one would have imagined that a West Virginia chef would be honored or Arabic cuisine would be part of the conversation. It shows the committee’s commitment to bringing engaging voices to the forefront of the culinary conversation.

Additionally, food television fans will recognize Gregory Gourdet. He has been recognized on several occasions for his outstanding achievements. It is another example of how the Top Chef community continues to influence the food culture.

Many food enthusiasts will hit the road to travel to all these amazing restaurants and seek out the talented chefs. Start making those reservations now. More importantly, these awards serve as a reminder that the American food culture is robust and growing.