The 2016 James Beard Award Winners were announced earlier in May and New Orleans is proud to have had 14 local chefs/restaurants make it to the semi-finals and, in the end, 3 James Beard Award winners!
Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows how big cuisine is here. Few cities can boast as much food talent, history, and variety as New Orleans and local chefs and restaurants receiving awards for their ingenuity and expertise is nothing new – but these are the James Beard awards.
The James Beard Foundation (www.jamesbeard.org) is a national, non-profit, culinary arts organization based in New York City, and named after the “Dean of American Cookery,” legendary food writer, teacher, and cookbook author, James Beard. James Beard Awards are held annually to honor exceptional chefs and journalists and are considered by many the Oscars of the food world.
New Orleans’ 2016 James Beard Award Winners
2016 Lifetime Achievement Award – Chef Leah Chase
Leah Chase is a living legend who has been cooking in New Orleans at Dooky Chase’s since 1946. She helped pioneer the “soul food” genre, was the inspiration for Princess Tiana in Disney’s “Princess and the Frog,” and has garnered numerous previous awards, including the Candace Award, the Freedom Foundation Award, and the NAACP Human Understanding, to name just a few. She was inducted into the James Beard Foundation “Who’s Who in Food & Beverage” in 2010, is the author of the Dooky Chase Cookbook, and was the subject of a biography by Carol Allen: “Leah Chase: Listen, I Say Like This.”
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant – 2301 Orleans Ave. – is known for its incredible array of creole and soul food in a restaurant filled with local art.
Best Chef, South – Justin Devillier
New Orleans Magazine’s 2014 “Chef of the Year,” 35 year-old Chef Justin Devillier is no stranger to accolades. Despite his relative youth, he’s been a finalist for the James Beard Award of “Best Chef: South” three times before, so it was no surprise to see him on the list again – but a real thrill to see him finally take it home. Known for his lengthy involvement with La Petite Grocery, where he began his N’awlins career in 2003, Devillier has since gone on to own the establishment as well as open another: Balise.
La Petite Grocery – 4238 Magazine St. – is serves up made-from-scratch Louisiana fare in the quaint and intimate surroundings of what was an 1800’s grocery store.
Balise – 640 Carondelet – on the other hand, offers cocktails, wine, and Louisiana fare with a European accent in a warm townhouse setting.
Best New Restaurant- Shaya
Chef Alon Shaya, owner, head chef, and namesake of Shaya is an innovative chef who incorporates influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Greece into his modern Israeli dishes – falafel, kebabs, and baba ganoush. Shaya uses seasonal, locally-sourced and responsibly-grown and harvested ingredients from Louisiana’s abundant local farmers via the Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Like Chef Alon’s other N’awlins restaurants – Domenica and Pizza Domenica – Shaya’s centerpiece is a wood-fired oven. Chef Alon Shaya was the James Beard “Best Chef: South” in 2015 for his work through Domenica, among other honors.
Shaya – 4213 Magazine St
New Orleans Lodging
Food isn’t the only thing New Orleans does right – we also know lodging – and I’m not talking about those stale, impersonal hotels or motels. For real southern hospitality, great breakfasts, lush appointments, and tips on the local scene from someone who knows the area like the back of their hand, stay at an authentic, locally owned and operated New Orleans Bed and Breakfast Inn.