Local chefs shine at 2024 James Beard Awards

Three local chefs from the D.C. area and Maryland were honored Monday night at the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The prestigious awards recognize culinary excellence across the U.S.

Michael Rafidi, chef and owner of Albi in Navy Yard, was named Outstanding Chef of 2024. Albi, which has been serving Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine since 2020, draws heavily on Rafidi’s Palestinian heritage.

“The only thing I can really think about right now is my Palestinian grandparents, my mother, and how they paved the way for me to be here tonight,” Rafidi said. “And this award is dedicated to Palestine and to all Palestinian people out there whether it’s here, or in Palestine, or all over the world.”

In the Emerging Chef category, Masako Morishita, Executive Chef of Perry’s in Adams Morgan, took home the award. Morishita, a former journalist and cheerleader, revitalized Perry’s, a beloved restaurant with a 40-year history.

“This is my wildest American dream come true … I first really want to thank my team, everybody who worked with me through my cooking career. Without them, I’m nobody,” Morishita said. “I cooked Japanese comfort food, which is overshadowed by sushi and ramen. But this is the cuisine that Japanese moms have been cooking with love for centuries for their family. I really hope I’m making all the Japanese moms proud.”

Harley Peet, Executive Chef at Bas Rouge in Easton, Maryland, was awarded Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, a category that includes D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

“Food is our palette. We’re all artists in a different way. This is our way to convey love, happiness, and equality,” Peet expressed in a heartfelt acceptance speech. “We spend more time in the hospitality industry with our team, who become extended family, more so than our own family sometimes. If you recognize somebody that’s having some problems or needs some help, please, before it’s too late, always reach out.”

The awards ceremony was hosted by renowned chefs Nyesha Arrington, Richard Blais, Amanda Freitag, and Marcus Samuelsson, celebrating the best in the culinary world and highlighting the vital role of teamwork and community in achieving culinary excellence.

Here is the complete list of 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Winners:

Outstanding Chef

Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant

Langbaan, Portland, Oregon

Outstanding Restaurateur

Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, Id Est Hospitality Group (The Wolf’s Tailor, BRUTØ, Basta, and others), Boulder, Colorado

Best New Restaurant

Dakar NOLA, New Orleans

Outstanding Hospitality

Lula Cafe, Chicago

Emerging Chef

Masako Morishita, Perry’s, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, Maine

Outstanding Bakery

ZU Bakery, Portland, Maine

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Columbia, South Carolina

Outstanding Bar

Jewel of the South, New Orleans

Best Chef: New York State

Charlie Mitchell, Cloverhill, Brooklyn, New York

Best Chef: mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Harley Peet, Bas Rouge, Easton, Maryland

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Valerie Chang, Maty’s, Miami

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)

Gregory Gourdet, Kann, Portland, Oregon

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

David Standridge, The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, Connecticut

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis

Best Chef: California

Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

Matt Vawter, Rootstalk, Breckenridge, Colorado

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

Rene Andrade, Bacanora, Phoenix

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, West Virginia

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, Michigan

Best Chef: Texas

Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, Texas

The following wins were previously announced:

2024 America’s Classics

  • Mandalay, San Francisco
  • Vietnam Restaurant, Philadelphia
  • Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge, Brookings, South Dakota
  • Sylvia’s Restaurant, New York City
  • Wade’s Restaurant, Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge, Las Vegas

2024 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Reichl

2024 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year

The LEE Initiative

2024 Leadership Awards

  • Muhammad Abdul-Hadi, Founder/Owner, Down North Pizza and Down North Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director, North American Marine Alliance (NAMA) and Director, National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • Helga Garza, Executive Director, Agri-Cultura Network / La Cosecha, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Mai Nguyen, Farmer, Farmer Mai, Sonoma, California
  • Emerging Leadership: Christa Barfield, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, FarmerJawn, West Chester, Pennsylvania

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Terik King

Terik King is an Associate Producer for WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2022 he held roles producing podcasts, unscripted television and content for MTV, the NFL and independent documentary production companies.

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