The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday morning released its list of finalists for 2022, and Chicago restaurants, bars, and chefs picked up nine nominations. That’s just one more than the eight finalists named in 2020, when the foundation canceled its ceremony amid pandemic tumult and allegations of bullying, sexism, and racism. Widely considered among the highest honors in the food world, the 31st annual James Beard Foundation Awards gala will at long last return on June 13 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The awards are designed to highlight outstanding chefs, restaurants, and hospitality professionals. This year, the foundation has also resumed separate events for food journalism and media award nominees, but in a new twist will announce the 2022 media winners in a live ceremony on June 11 at Columbia College Chicago. It released its 2022 long list of semifinalists in late February.
While many of the first-time semifinalists didn’t make it through to the finalist nominations, three exciting local contenders remain: Kasama, chefs Tim Flores and Genie Kwon’s wildly popular bakery and Filipino fine dining spot in West Town, for Best New Restaurant; Nobody’s Darling, the queer cocktail bar in Andersonville that’s one of just two Black-owned LGBTQ taverns in the city, for Outstanding Bar Program; and Maya-Camille Broussard, the pie master behind Justice of the Pies, for Outstanding Baker.
As in most years, Chicago chefs largely swept the Best Chef: Great Lakes category, save for a single contender from Detroit. That group includes repeat nominees Erick Williams (Virtue), John Shields and Karen Urie Shields (Smyth), Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe), and Noah Sandoval (Oriole). Chef and restaurateur Jason Vincent (Giant) is still in the running for Outstanding Chef — though the foundation accidentally left him off the original long list for nearly a week. Parachute, the Korean-American fine dining hotspot from Beard winning chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, is a finalist for Outstanding Restaurant, despite the fact that it remains temporarily closed.
Head over to Eater for the full list of finalists nationwide. This year’s Chicago finalists are below.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.
(* denotes first-time finalist)
Best New Restaurant
Outstanding Bar Program
*Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Erick Williams, Virtue
Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe
John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth
Noah Sandoval, Oriole
*Jason Vincent, Giant