Kerstin Kühn: James Beard Awards

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th June 2016

In her latest piece, Los Angeles-based food writer Kerstin Kuhn looks at this year’s James Beard Award winners.

Suzanne Goin

Earlier this month, the biggest highlight of the culinary year in the USA took place with the annual James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. These awards are a really big deal for the industry here in the USA and after a relatively quiet year for Los Angeles last year, a number of the city’s top chefs were honoured this year.

Most notably Suzanne Goin – chef owner of iconic Los Angeles restaurants Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern – received Outstanding Chef, an honour only four other female chefs have been awarded before her, including Alice Waters (1992), Lidia Bastianich (2002), Judy Rodgers (2004) and Nancy Silverton (2014).

Goin, who won Best Chef of the West in 2006 and had previously been nominated for Outstanding Chef a number of times, is a Los Angeles native. She spent time with the Roux Brothers at Le Mazarin in London before joining Chez Panisse in Berkeley and then working in France at Didier Oudill’s two-star Pain Adour et Fantastie and Alain Passard’s three-star L’Arpège in Paris.

After returning to Los Angeles and working with Nancy Silverton as executive chef at Campanile, she opened Lucques in West Hollywood in 1998. The restaurant was an instant success and Goin was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 1999. A second restaurant, A.O.C., a concept of inspired wines by the glass with a small plates menu, opened in 2002 and quickly emulated Lucques’ success. Since then Goin has launched a number of other popular restaurants, including The Hungry Cat, a collaboration with her husband, chef David Lentz, comprising an eclectic market-inspired seafood restaurant, which has since expanded to locations in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara; as well as Tavern in Brentwood, arguably her most ambitious project, which brings together a trio of concepts under one roof – a full service dining room, a marketplace and a bar with craft cocktails and artisanal wines. And inspired by the more casual larder section at Tavern, she also opened The Larder in 2011, which now has three outlets across Los Angeles.

 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo 

Other Los Angeles chefs to win at the James Beard Awards, which were held in Chicago this year (they usually take place in New York), included Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal, Son of a Gun and Jon & Vinny's, who jointly won Best Chef of the West. The duo, who also run Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia with French chef Ludo Lefebvre, beat heavy hitters from San Francisco Dominique Crenn (who has just been named best female chef in the world) and Corey Lee of the three-Michelin-starred Benu to win this award. This is a significant coup not just for Shook and Dotolo but also Los Angeles, proving that the city’s dining culture of more accessible restaurants is gaining momentum over the traditional, high-end fine dining restaurants of the Bay Area.

Meanwhile Dahlia Narvaez, the long-standing pastry chef at Mozza, won Outstanding Pastry Chef having been nominated for the award for the past few years. Also a Los Angeles native, Narvaez first joined her mentor Silverton’s Campanile in 1999 and was name executive pastry chef four years later. Since her appointment of executive pastry chef at Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza, she has developed the menus and pastry departments for all of Mozza’s LA restaurants and oversees the department in Newport Beach, San Diego, and Singapore.

And finally Father Greg Boyle won the James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award. As the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, he oversees the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Father Boyle launched Homeboy Bakery in 1992 in the aftermath of the civil unrest in Los Angeles, and ever since former enemy gang members have worked side by side, learning both business and baking skills together. Its success created the groundwork for additional social enterprises with the Homeboy brand including Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Diner in Los Angeles City Hall, and a retail presence at farmers’ markets throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Other major James Beard Award winners this year included Grant Achatz’s three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, which won Outstanding Restaurant; the three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York City, which won Outstanding Service; and Ken Friedman, who together with British chef April Bloomfield runs The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in New York City as well as Tosca Café in San Francisco, who won Outstanding Restaurateur.

The 2016 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best Chef: Great Lakes

Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago


Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Aaron Silverman, Rose’s Luxury, Washington D.C.


Best Chef: Midwest

Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis


Best Chef: New York City

Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto


Best Chef: Northeast

Zak Pelaccio, Fish & Game, Hudson, NY


Best Chef: Northwest

Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle


Best Chef: South

Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans


Best Chef: Southeast

Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville


Best Chef: Southwest

Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston


Best Chef: West

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles


Best New Restaurant

Shaya, New Orleans


Outstanding Baker

Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Café, Boston


Outstanding Bar Program

Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY


Outstanding Chef

Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles


Outstanding Pastry Chef

Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles


Outstanding Restaurant

Alinea, Chicago


Outstanding Restaurateur

Ken Friedman, The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Tosca Café, NYC


Outstanding Service

Eleven Madison Park, NYC


Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits

Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, NM


Outstanding Wine Program

Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, FL


Rising Star Chef of the Year

Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, NYC

Kerstin Kühn is a freelance food and travel writer, specialising in restaurant and chef stories. The former restaurant editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, she relocated from London to Los Angeles in 2013, where she lives on the city’s trendy East Side.

With a vast network of chefs from around the world, Kerstin has profiled the likes of Michel Roux, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, the Roca brothers and Massimo Bottura. She is a regular contributor to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, FOUR Magazine, M&C Report and Spinney’s Food, and also writes her own blog, La Goulue. You can follow Kerstin on Twitter @LaGoulue_

>>>Read more of Kerstin's blogs here.


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th June 2016

Kerstin Kühn: James Beard Awards