The James Beard Foundation Releases Award Semifinalists

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One of the most prestigious culinary awards, the James Beard Foundation seeks to recognize restaurants and chefs. These awards honor the excellency of their culinary traditions, hospitality efforts, media presence, and a dedication to a culture of sustainability, community, and racial and gender equality.

Winners of the awards will be announced in the following weeks. On February 28, Restaurant and Chef America’s Classics Award winners will be announced.  Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees and Achievement Awards honorees will be shared on April 3 at Waldorf Astoria Washington, D.C. Tuesday, April 30, will recognize nominees for the James Beard Media Awards. 

The James Beard Foundation recently released a full list of the 2024 James Beard Award Semifinalists in a blog post and press release. The following Chicago restaurants have been selected.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR

This award is given to a restaurateur who has demonstrated positive contributions to their community through creativity and integrity, building community within their establishment and producing a sustainable work culture. Marcos Carbajal is one semifinalist, whose Mexican restaurant Carnitas Uruapan is famous for its authentic Carnitas. Nicolas and Oliver Poilevey were also selected as semifinalists, and they own Obelix, Le Bouchon, and Taqueria Chingón.

OUTSTANDING CHEF

The Outstanding Chef award recognizes a chef who is an example for other culinary professionals by setting high standards of contributing positively to their community. John and Karen Shields have been selected as semifinalists for this award with their restaurant Smyth.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT

An Outstanding Restaurant consistently serves excellent food, dining environment, hospitable service, and is a positive contributor to their community. The James Beard Foundation has recognized The Duck Inn as a semifinalist for this award.

EMERGING CHEF

Zubair Mohajir is a semifinalist for the Emerging Chef Award, bestowed to the chef who has demonstrated remarkable talent, character, and leadership. For his work with The Coach House by Wazwan, the James Beard Foundation recognizes Zubair Mohajir for the potential to make a lasting impact in his community.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Eligible restaurants for this award must have been opened between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023 and already serve excellent food and show they are contributing to their surrounding community. From Chicago, Atelier has been selected as a semifinalist for this award.

OUTSTANDING BAKERY

Any bakery who contributes to its community with exceptional food, establishment atmosphere, service hospitality, and building operations. For this award, Chicago’s Loba Pastry + Coffee has been recognized as a semifinalist.

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF OR BAKER

Candidates for this award have demonstrated remarkable skill in baking desserts, pastries, or breads while positively impacting their broader community. Anna Posey, owner of Elske in Chicago’s West Loop, was selected to be a semifinalist for the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker Award.

OUTSTANDING HOSPITALITY

Any establishment that produces a positive impact in their community through hospitality, food, atmosphere, and operations is eligible to receive this award. Lula Cafe, a Logan Square restaurant serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, is recognized as a semifinalist.

OUTSTANDING WINE AND OTHER BEVERAGES

Chicago’s Middle Brow has demonstrated unparalleled care and skill in hospitality and pairing wine and other beverages with food. As a semifinalist for this award, Middle Brow has contributed to the broader community in a positive way, including ethical sourcing. Elements of this award include excellent selection, preparation, and the service of wine, cocktails, spirits, coffee, tea, beer, and other beverages.

BEST CHEF: GREAT LAKES (IL, IN, MI, OH) 

The Best Chef Award has been divided into smaller categories based on region. Chicago, included in the Great Lakes region, has seven chefs who have been selected as semifinalists for this award because of their contributions to their community and efforts to create a sustainable work culture. The James Beard Foundation recognizes Diana Dávila Boldin from Mi Tocaya Antojería, Joe Fontelera of Boonie’s Filipino Restaurant, Joe Frillman of Daisies, James Martin from Bocadillo Market, Sujan Sarkar from Indienne, Jenner Tomaska of Esme, and Donald Young from Duck Sel.

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