Well, at least it wasn’t a chef from New Orleans, for a change.
The James Beard Foundation handed out its awards for culinary excellence Monday evening in a black-tie ceremony held in Chicago.
Frenchette, New York City, was named Best New Restaurant and the title for Outstanding Restaurant went to Philadelphia’s Zahav, an Israeli restaurant. Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina, took the Outstanding Chef award. Kelly Fields of Willa Jean in New Orleans is the 2019 Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Orlando had had a semifinalist in the pastry chef category, a national award. Rabii Saber of the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort was a first-time nominee in that category.
For the second year in a row, Central Florida had no chefs even on the long list or nominees for Best Chef: South, a region that also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. Over the past decade, New Orleans chefs have dominated the region. Three of the five finalists were from New Orleans.
But this year the honor went to Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Miss.