Feb 24, 2022 - Food and Drink

3 chefs, plus Attaboy, named James Beard Award semifinalists

A bartender in a Hawaiin shirt pours a drink at Attaboy in East Nashville.

Attaboy in East Nashville. Photo: Larry McCormack/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

Some of Nashville's finest were recognized yesterday as semifinalists for James Beard Awards.

  • Nashville got mentions on the shortlists for best bar program and best chefs of the Southeast.

Why it matters: James Beard Awards are the gold standard for the culinary world and serve as an indication of the best bites and sips in the city.

Zoom in: Craft cocktail bar Attaboy in East Nashville was named among the best bars in the country.

  • It caps an emotional comeback for Attaboy after a tough two years: An Attaboy bartender and his girlfriend were killed in 2020 when a deadly tornado ripped through East Nashville, and the bar closed for several months as it faced repairs and the pandemic.
  • Attaboy also has a location in New York City.

🧑‍🍳 Semifinalists for best southeastern chef include Jake Howell of Peninsula; Philip Krajeck of Folk and Rolf and Daughters; and Mailea Weger of Lou.

  • Krajeck has been nominated for a number of James Beard Awards over the years, per the Nashville Scene.

Zoom out: The awards ceremony was canceled in 2020 and 2021, as the industry grappled with the national conversation on systemic racism and the pandemic.

What's next: The semifinalists will be narrowed down to a group of nominees next month, with the awards ceremony scheduled for June.

💭 Our thought bubble: A few nanoseconds after the James Beard news hit, we decided to head over to Attaboy.

  • The bar has a speakeasy vibe: The alleyway door is locked, and you have to wait to get inside.
  • There's no drink menu. The bartender asks you what liquors and flavors you prefer and surprises you. They can use their top-notch ingredients to make non-alcoholic drinks, too.
  • If you're hungry after your visit, a number of options are within walking distance, including Edley's and Joyland.

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