Two Atlanta chefs named 2024 James Beard Award finalists

Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang, chef-owners of Talat Market in Atlanta's Summerhill neighborhood, have been named finalists for a James Beard Foundation award. CONTRIBUTED BY BAILEY GARROT

Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang, chef-owners of Talat Market in Atlanta's Summerhill neighborhood, have been named finalists for a James Beard Foundation award. CONTRIBUTED BY BAILEY GARROT

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2024 restaurant and chef awards, and Atlanta chefs and restaurateurs Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter of Summerhill restaurant Talat Market made the list in the Best Chef: Southeast category.

This is 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. They’ll be competing against Jamie Davis of the Hackney in Washington, North Carolina; James London of Chubby Fish in Charleston, South Carolina; Robbie Robinson of City Limits Barbecue in West Columbia, South Carolina; and Paul Smith of 1010 Bridge in Charleston, West Virginia.

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 that the recognition is 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.”

Lassiter and his wife celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary the same day of the finalist announcements, “so I’m riding really high right now,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter said he reached out to Terry Koval for tips on how to navigate being a finalist. The pair worked together for years at Wrecking Bar Brewpub and Koval won the Best Chef: Southeast category in 2023.

“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.”

The 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony will take place on June 10 in Chicago where all winners will be announced.

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.