Jan 25, 2024 - Food and Drink

Richmond was snubbed by the James Beard awards for the second year

Illustration of a chef's toque deflating into a sad balloon.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Karri here, just trying not to rage as I watch the Axios Slack channels blow up as my colleagues in 29 other cities share their local James Beard Award semifinalists.

Driving the news: The Beard Foundation announced its semifinalist nominees yesterday and Richmond got snubbed. Again.

Why it matters: The awards are considered the most prestigious recognition for the nation's best restaurants, chefs and bar programs.

  • And Richmond got nothing, for the second year in a row — third if you count the fact the organization canceled the awards in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Catch up quick: The JBF awards started in 1990 and Richmond was recognized by the foundation occasionally in the award's first two decades (thrice, in fact, in 1995, 1996 and 2008).

  • Then the 2010s hit — the decade that forged and solidified Richmond's dining scene and put the city on the national culinary map, per the Times-Dispatch (read: me. I wrote it).
  • 2010 started an 11-year run for Richmond and the James Beard Awards, including 2018 and 2019 when the city's dining community garnered a record four semifinalists. Two locals got nominated again in 2020.

And then nothing for multiple years?

Is the foundation not aware that last year, chef Dale Reitzer, best chef mid-Atlantic nominee in 2010-2012 and 2015 opened a whole new updated version of the restaurant he was previously nominated for?

Or that chef Lee Gregory, best chef mid-Atlantic nominee in 2013-2015, has opened a Chesapeake Bay and Virginia foodways seafood restaurant, which is literally the same concept that two chefs in Charlotte were nominated for this year? Only his Virginia seafood restaurant is actually in Virginia?

Or is the problem that Richmond does Southern food (and Virginia seafood!), but JBF has the whole state in the Mid-Atlantic, competing alongside restaurants just outside of Manhattan, in Philly and the behemoth that is D.C. (15 nominations!)?

  • When the foundation is finding the best locally-caught Chesapeake Bay seafood 300 miles outside Virginia, you have to wonder…

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