James Beard Award eludes Atlanta chefs in 2024

Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang are the chef-owners of Talat Market, which opened April 24 in Summerhill. CONTRIBUTED BY BAILEY GARROT

Credit: Courtesy photo/Bailey Garrot

Credit: Courtesy photo/Bailey Garrot

Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang are the chef-owners of Talat Market, which opened April 24 in Summerhill. CONTRIBUTED BY BAILEY GARROT

The two Atlanta chefs that were up for James Beard Foundation Awards this year will come home empty-handed.

Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter lost out in the Best Chef: Southeast category to Paul Smith of 1010 Bridge in Charleston, West Virginia. Other chefs vying for the medal included Jamie Davis of the Hackney in Washington, North Carolina; James London of Chubby Fish in Charleston, South Carolina; and Robbie Robinson of City Limits Barbecue in West Columbia, South Carolina. The awards were held Monday night in Chicago.

The pair were the only 2024 award finalists from Georgia. This was the pair’s first time as Beard finalists, though Savang received solo semifinalist recognition in 2018 in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category.

Savang and Lassiter started Talat Market as a weekend pop-up at Candler Park’s Gato Bizco Cafe. Mere weeks after launching in 2017, Savang and Lassiter were already attracting crowds hoping to snag one of the coveted seats, and just a few years later they raised enough capital with a Kickstarter campaign to open their first brick-and-mortar in Summerhill, right at the beginning of the pandemic.

During the seven years they’ve operated their Thai eatery, they’ve garnered plenty of accolades. In 2018, Talat Market made Bon Appetit’s Top 50 Nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants list. More recently, Talat Market earned a place in Atlanta’s inaugural Michelin Guide as a recommended restaurant.

Savang and Lassiter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution when the finalists were announced in April that the recognition was surreal.

“It’s a full circle moment,” Savang said of the nomination. He first attended the James Beard Awards as a volunteer in 2011, and wasn’t allowed to watch the event.

“I saw my career being unfolded right in front of me,” he said. “I saw chefs there like Hugh Acheson and Andy Ricker, and those are people I’ve met and have worked with.”

“This is all still very unexpected from my perspective,” Lassiter said. “When we started (Talat Market) ... we were just trying to build our following and have fun. It’s mind-blowing, and still in my heart of hearts, I don’t expect these sorts of things to happen. I feel very grateful and humbled.”

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

Metro Atlanta chefs and restaurants have taken home several James Beard Award wins in the past. Most recently, Terry Koval of The Deer and The Dove won in the Best Chef: Southeast category last year, and chef and co-owner of Miller Union, Steven Satterfield, won Best Chef: Southeast in 2017.

Outside of Atlanta, Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah won for Outstanding Chef in 2022 and Best Chef: Southeast in 2019.

One win for Atlanta: Atlanta Journal-Constitution senior editor Michael Jordan won a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award at the James Beard Media Awards on June 8.

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