No James Beard Awards for New Orleans restaurants this year
New Orleans left empty-handed from Monday's James Beard Awards ceremony celebrating the best chefs and restaurants in the country.
State of play: We started out with 12 semifinalists representing NOLA, which was whittled down to three finalists: chef Ana Castro of Lengua Madre, the long-standing Angelo Brocato bakery and Serigne Mbaye of Dakar NOLA.
- None clinched the top prize this year.
Yes, but: There's still plenty to celebrate from this year's ceremony.
- The night was one of historic firsts, including the first Puerto Rican chef and the first indigenous woman to win James Beard awards.
- New Orleans locals will also appreciate the nod to the late chef Leah Chase early into the night. Chase was the New Orleans woman who inspired Disney's Princess Tiana and won a lifetime achievement award during the 2016 James Beard Awards.
- "I'm so grateful she got her flowers later in life," Tanya Holland of the James Beard Foundation's Board of Trustees said of Chase.
The bottom line: In a foodie city like New Orleans, awards like these feel like a big deal, but we don't need a James Beard win to celebrate our top culinary talent.
Ana Castro, Lengua Madre
- Nominated for: Best chef in the South.
- Lost to: Natalia Vallejo, the first Puerto Rican chef to win a James Beard Award. Vallejo's restaurant Cocina al Fondo is located in the island's capital city of San Juan.
- Try it: Chef Castro tells the story of her life through a five-course tasting menu at her modern Mexican restaurant in the Lower Garden District. Book a reservation via Resy (1245 Constance St.).
Serigne Mbaye, Dakar NOLA
- Nominated for: Emerging chef.
- Lost to: Damarr Brown, the chef behind Chicago's Virtue and of Top Chef fame.
- Try it: Chef Mbaye's Senegalese restaurant on Magazine Street has a rare perfect rating on Google and is a must-visit for tasting menu-loving folks. Reservations available via Tock (3814 Magazine St.).
- Nominated for: Outstanding bakery.
- Lost to: Yoli Tortilleria based in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Try it: The 118-year-old gelato and dessert shop is a piece of New Orleans history — and now a piece of James Beard history, too, with this new category for outstanding bakeries. Its fresh-piped cannoli are a New Orleans staple (214 N. Carrollton Ave.).
Related Axios story: Try the 3 New Orleans spots on Esquire's best bars list
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