Apr 3, 2024 - Food and Drink

James Beard Awards names 3 New Orleans nominees

Illustration of a trophy wearing a chef's hat

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Dakar NOLA, Saffron and Jewel of the South of New Orleans received James Beard Award nominations Wednesday after the organization whittled down from its larger list of semifinalists.

Why it matters: The awards are generally known as the Oscars of the food world, highlighting the best in the American culinary industry.

Zoom in: Dakar NOLA received a nomination as Best New Restaurant, and Saffron chef Arvinder Vilkhu was nominated as Best Chef: South.

  • These aren't the first Beard nods for either.
  • Serigne Mbaye, the chef at Dakar NOLA, was nominated as Emerging Chef in 2022 and 2023, but did not win for either year.
  • Saffron was a semifinalist in 2018 as Best New Restaurant, but did not make it through to the nominee stage.

Between the lines: Jewel of the South's nomination is in the Outstanding Bar category, which might raise a few eyebrows.

  • But the French Quarter tavern is one of those uncategorizable places that serves your purposes if you're just popping in for a quick pre-show cocktail or a full, lazily consumed dinner.
  • Either way, it hasn't received a James Beard win before, but its co-owner and bartender Chris Hannah is often credited for the one bestowed upon Arnaud's French 75.

By the numbers: Dakar, Saffron and Jewel were the only three New Orleans restaurants of 10 area chefs and restaurateurs to land on the list of semifinalists earlier this year.

What's next: Winners will be announced during the James Beard Awards ceremony, set for June 10 in Chicago.

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