Atlanta restaurants, chefs named semifinalists for 2023 James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists for its 2023 restaurant and chef awards, and the list includes multiple chefs and restaurants from metro Atlanta and Savannah. Here are the people and restaurants in contention:

Among national awards, The Grey in Savannah is up for the Outstanding Restaurant honor. Chef Mashama Bailey, who co-owns the restaurant with John Morisano, won the award for Outstanding Chef in 2022 and Best Chef: Southeast in 2019.

For the second year in a row, Ticonderoga Club has been recognized in the Outstanding Hospitality category. The restaurant was a finalist in the category in 2022 and was also a finalist in 2019 in the Outstanding Bar Program category. Ticonderoga Club has been closed in its location at Krog Street Market since late December due to a burst pipe.

Also a repeat semifinalist is Midtown restaurant Lyla Lila in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program category.

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

In the Outstanding Bakery category, Buena Gente Cuban Bakery in Decatur and Unforgettable Bakery & Cafe in Savannah were both named semifinalists for the first time.

The news that Unforgettable Bakery was a semifinalist caught owner and self-trained baker Belinda Baptiste by surprise. “What? Wow! That’s so crazy cool,” said Baptiste, a Haitian native who opened her shop in 2009 and in recent years expanded her product line to include Haitian baked goods. “To be recognized is really awesome.”

Credit: Yvonne Zusel

Credit: Yvonne Zusel

Several local chefs were named semifinalists in the Best Chef: Southeast category: Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips of Lazy Betty in Candler Park, Terry Koval of The Deer and the Dove in Decatur, Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ in northwest Atlanta, Sahar Siddiqi of Chai Pani in Decatur and Deborah VanTrece of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours.

Other than Lee and Taylor, who were named semifinalists in 2020, all the chefs in the category are first-time semifinalists, though Lazy Betty was a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category in 2020.

Credit: Noah Fecks

Credit: Noah Fecks

VanTrece was shocked to hear of her nomination in the regional chef category. “No Way! Oh wow. I am getting ready to cry,” she said. “It feels pretty damn good after such a long time on this journey.” Besides operating Twisted Soul, VanTrece opened two restaurants in 2022 — Oreatha’s at the Point and Serenidad. Construction is expected to start on a new concept this spring.

In addition, Clinton Gray, Derrick Moore, and Emanuel Reed, who own Nashville-based Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria, were named in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. There are two Slim & Husky’s locations in Atlanta.

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

Awards finalists will be announced on March 29, and winners will be revealed June 5 at a ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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