Here are the Atlanta chefs and restaurants named 2024 James Beard Award semifinalists

Several Atlanta-area chefs and restaurants have been named 2024 James Beard Award Semifinalists, including Cooks & Soldiers, Atsushi Hayakawa of Hayakawa, Erika Council of Bomb Biscuits and Arnaldo Castillo of Tio Lucho’s. COURTESY OF THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION

Several Atlanta-area chefs and restaurants have been named 2024 James Beard Award Semifinalists, including Cooks & Soldiers, Atsushi Hayakawa of Hayakawa, Erika Council of Bomb Biscuits and Arnaldo Castillo of Tio Lucho’s. COURTESY OF THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION

Several chefs and restaurants from metro Atlanta and Athens have been named 2024 James Beard Award semifinalists.

They include:

Outstanding Chef

Atsushi Hayakawa, Hayakawa

Outstanding Hospitality

Cooks & Soldiers

Best Chef: Southeast

Pete Amadhanirundr, Puma Yu’s (Athens)

Arnaldo Castillo, Tio Lucho’s

Erika Council, Bomb Biscuits

Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang, Talat Market

Duane Nutter, Southern National

In addition, Kimball Brienza and Stephen Palmer, who own Indigo Road Hospitality Group, which has several restaurants in metro Atlanta, were named semifinalists in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Palmer, an Atlanta native, is behind eateries including Indaco, Sukoshi, O-Ku and Oak Steakhouse. Palmer has also been recognized three times as a semifinalist in the same category.

Most of those who received nods are first-time semifinalists, including Puma Yu’s, Castillo, Council and Lassiter. Hayakawa, whose west Midtown restaurant received a Michelin star in late 2023, was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef category in 2015; Cooks & Soldiers was recognized in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category for then-chef Landon Thompson; and Nutter was a semifinalist in the Best Chef category in 2020 for his now-shuttered Mobile location of Southern National, and was the executive chef at One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when the restaurant was recognized as a semifinalist for Outstanding Service in 2014 and 2015.

Though this is Lassiter’s first time as a semifinalist, Savang received solo semifinalist recognition in 2018 for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Castillo said he received the news from his friend Nikko Cagalanan, who owns Kultura in Charleston, South Carolina, and was also a semifinalist this year.

“He texted me, I’m proud of us,’ and I didn’t know what he meant,” Castillo said. “And then all of a sudden, all these text messages congratulating me came in.”

Tio Lucho’s, which Castillo opened in Atlanta’s Poncey-Highland neighborhood in 2022, started as Peruvian pop-up La Chingana. Both concepts are an ode to his father, Luis, who was known as Tio Lucho and died just days before the restaurant’s opening.

“There’s an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to my team,” he said. “And it also means a lot to me to get to continue to talk about my dad, and now everyone’s going to know his name. I’m so proud to be waving the Peruvian flag here on Ponce (de Leon Avenue).”

A Beard nod is the latest in a string of accolades for Council of Bomb Biscuits. Last year she published her first cookbook, “Still We Rise,”; and her pop-up turned brick-and-mortar was among the 50 restaurants across the country named to the 2023 New York Times Restaurant List as well as the Atlanta Michelin Guide’s list of Bib Gourmand restaurants.

“It’s really surreal all the recognition I’ve gotten,” she said. “When I started this, I was just delivering biscuits and then doing pop-ups. I didn’t think I would be on a list of so many chefs that I admired.”

“I grew up in this business,” said Council, who learned to make biscuits working at her grandmother’s famed restaurant, Mama Dip’s Kitchen in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “So as far as being African American in this space, I’m grateful for the ones who did this before me who never got the recognition. I always think of them because they really paved the way for me to be in this space.”

Atlanta is in position to recreate its victory from 2023, when Chef Terry Koval of Decatur restaurants the Deer and the Dove and B-Side won in the Best Chef: Southeast category. He was the only finalist from the metro area last year, though The Grey in Savannah was up for the Outstanding Restaurant honor.

Other than Lassiter, all of this year’s Atlanta semifinalist chefs are people of color. The foundation suspended its 2020 and 2021 awards to audit potential systemic bias and overhaul its nomination process.

Several restaurants and chefs who have made the cut as semifinalists multiple times in the past few years were absent from this year’s list, including Ticonderoga Club, Kimball House, Lyla Lila, Miller Union, Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow, and Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ.

In addition, there were no semifinalists from Atlanta in several national categories, including Emerging Chef, Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Bakery, Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, Outstanding Wine or Other Beverages Program, Outstanding Bar and Outstanding Restaurant.

This is also the first time since 2018 that Mashama Bailey or The Grey, the restaurant she owns with Johno Morisano, did not receive a nomination. Bailey won Best Chef: Southeast in 2019 and Outstanding Chef in 2022.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards are among the nation’s most prestigious honors recognizing leaders in the culinary and food media industries.

The 2024 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award finalists will be announced April 3, along with Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, and Humanitarian of the Year honorees. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on June 10 in Chicago.

In addition, America’s Classics winners will be announced Feb. 28 and Media Award winners will be announced June 8.

Local nonprofit Giving Kitchen was a Humanitarian of the Year winner in 2019, and Atlanta restaurant Busy Bee was recognized with an America’s Classics award in 2022.