In an outcome that will surprise few — the other chefs who compete in the South category least among them — the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef in that region, which includes Florida, was awarded Monday to a chef from New Orleans.
Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery took the award in a black tie ceremony in Chicago. The odds were good that a New Orleans chef would take home the medallion — three of the five finalists were from that city, and New Orleans chefs have dominated the category for years.
But NOLA’s recognition wasn’t relegated to a regional award. Shaya, a modern Israeli restaurant, was named best new restaurant.
Bern’s Steakhouse, the Tampa mainstay, won an award for Outstanding Wine Program.
Alinea of host city Chicago was named Outstanding Restaurant overall, and Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin) in New York Outstanding Restaurateur.
Winners are voted on be a panel of judges comprised mainly of restaurant critics and food journalists from around the country. Judges must state that they have voted only for restaurants they have dined in or chefs whose food they've eaten.
You can find the full list of winners at the James Beard Foundation website.