The James Beard Foundation just dropped the list of the 2023 semifinalists in the restaurant and chef categories, and there are a few Atlantans and Atlanta establishments among the names.
Known as the “Oscars” of the food world, restaurant and chef awards are given out annually in categories like best chef southeast, outstanding restaurant, best new restaurant, and emerging chef. The foundation also recognizes a handful of restaurant institutions throughout the country with an America’s classic award, honoring independent and family-owned restaurants open for more than a decade that exhibit “timeless appeal.” Last year, Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood was named an America’s classic.
In 2021, the James Beard Foundation conducted an extensive audit in an attempt to overhaul its policies and procedures to be more inclusive and transparent in how nominees are scouted, vetted, and voted upon each year. The audit followed years of accusations of racism and sexism and scandals surrounding bad actors in the restaurant industry who were subsequently nominated for awards by the foundation.
Below is the complete list of the Atlanta and Georgia semifinalists, as well as semifinalists from Alabama. Finalists in the 2023 restaurant and chef categories will be announced Wednesday, March 29, with winners announced during an awards ceremony taking place Monday, June 5, in Chicago.
Best Chef: Southeast
- Ronald Hsu and Aaron Phillips, Lazy Betty (also own Humble Pie and Juniper Cafe)
- Terry Koval, The Deer and the Dove
- Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor, Heirloom Market BBQ
- Sahar Siddiqi, Chai Pani in Decatur
- Deborah VanTrece, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours (also owns Orethea’s and Serenidad)
- Buena Gente Cuban Bakery in Decatur
- Unforgettable Bakery and Cafe in Savannah
- Ticonderoga Club
- Bottega in Birmingham
Outstanding Wine Program
- Clinton Gray, Derrick Moore, and Emanuel Reed, Slim and Husky’s Pizza Beeria, Nashville (two Atlanta locations on Howell Mill Road and Metropolitan Parkway)
- The Grey in Savannah
Best New Restaurant
- Pizza Grace in Birmingham
Best Chef: South
- Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant in Homewood, Alabama
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.
Update, 1/26/2023, 10:15 a.m.: The initial press release from the James Beard Foundation mistakenly left off chef Aaron Phillips from Lazy Betty as a semifinalist for best chef southeast. We have updated the list above to reflect the correction by the foundation and their updated press release.