Jan 24, 2024 - Food and Drink

Atlanta dominates 2024 James Beard semifinalists list

Illustration of a golden fork to the left of a golden plate, with a golden knife placed to the plate's right. The rim of the plate is decorated with a blue ribbon, creating the effect of a gold medal-inspired look.

What a time to be alive in Atlanta. Get out there and visit these restaurants! Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

How do you like them apples, Keith Lee?

What's happening: The James Beard Foundation released its semifinalists for awards recognizing the nation's best restaurants, chefs, and bar programs on Wednesday.

  • And the list is brimming with Atlanta-area restaurants.

Details: Locals filled several nominations in the following categories:

  • Best Chef (Southeast): Atlanta is represented by Arnaldo Castillo of Tio Lucho's; Erika Council of Bomb Biscuit Company; Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang of Talat Market, and Duane Nutter of Southern National. Plus: Athens' Pete Amadhanirundr of Puma Yu's is also among the semifinalists.
  • Outstanding Chef presented by Hilton: Atsushi Hayakawa of Hayakawa in Atlanta.
  • Outstanding Hospitality presented by American Airlines: Cooks & Soldiers in Atlanta.

Of note: Kimball Brienza and Stephen Palmer of O-Ku Sushi in Charleston are nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur. O-Ku also has a location in West Midtown in Atlanta.

Why it matters: The James Beard Awards are one of the world's most prestigious prizes in the food and drinks industry. If Atlanta wasn't on the map before for its restaurants, this certainly takes the cake.

Quick take: Not to be sour grapes, but Georgia received nine James Beard semifinalist nominations last year.

Catch up quick: Five Atlanta eateries received highly coveted Michelin Guide stars in October 2023.

  • Separately, viral TikTok food critic Keith Lee ranked Atlanta as his worst stop in 2023, saying he "barely ate" during his visit.
  • 💭 Wil's thought bubble: Kristal gave high praise to Bomb Biscuits last year. We clearly need to relish her keen palate here.

What's next: Finalists will be announced on April 3, and the winners will be revealed in a ceremony in Chicago on June 10.

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