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James Beard Foundation names Damarr Brown of Virtue restaurant in Chicago ‘Emerging Chef,’ and Kann in Portland, Ore., ‘Best New Restaurant’

Philadelphia wins two national awards and three regional chefs are Thai

The James Beard Foundation named Damarr Brown, the chef de cuisine of Virtue restaurant in Chicago, its Emerging Chef of the year in its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards at the Lyric Opera in Chicago on Monday.

Formerly called the Rising Star award, until the age restriction limiting it to people aged 30 or younger was removed last year, the recognition has kickstarted the career of many chefs and is granted to someone “who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come, while contributing positively to their broader community,” according to the award description.

The qualification of contributing to the broader community is a new requirement the foundation implemented last year, when it implemented a code of ethics and required that nominees adhere to the values of “creating a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy work culture.”

Virtue’s chef and owner Erick Williams has been widely praised for contributing to his community while fostering a healthy work environment.

The award for Best New Restaurant went to Kann in Portland, Ore., the newest operation by Haitian American chef Gregory Gourdet.

Rob Rubba of Oyster Oyster in Washington, D.C., won the award for Outstanding Chef, Friday Saturday Sunday in Philadelphia, was named Outstanding Restaurant, and Ellen Yin of High Street Hospitality Group, also in Philadelphia, was named Outstanding Restaurateur.

Yin’s restaurants include Fork, High Street Philly, A. Kitchen + Bar, High Street Hoagies, and The Wonton Project. The last restaurant, which started as a pop-up during the pandemic, contributes 5% of its earnings to Asian Americans United and Advancing Justice, two organizations that fight against anti-Asian discrimination.

Yoli Tortilleria in Kansas City, Mo., was named Outstanding Bakery, and Margarita Manzke of Republique in Los Angeles won the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

The Quarry in Monson, Maine, won the award for Outstanding Hospitality, Ototo in Los Angeles was awarded for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, and Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu was named Outstanding Bar.

The regional awards for Best Chef are as follows (notably, three of the twelve chefs are at Thai restaurants):

  • California: Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
  • Great Lakes (Ill, Ind., Mich., and Ohio: Tim Flores and Genie Kwon of Kasama in Chicago
  • Mid-Atlantic (Del, Md., N.J. Pa., Va., and Washington, D.C.): Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon of Kalaya in Philadelphia
  • Midwest (Iowa, Kan, Minn., Mo., Neb., N.D., S.D., and Wis.): Itaru Nagano and Andrew Kroeger of Fairchild in Madison, Wis.
  • Mountain: (Colo., Idaho, Mont., Utah, and Wyo.): Kris Komori of Kin in Boise, Idaho
  • New York State: Junghyun Park, of Atomix in New York City
  • Northeast (Conn. Mass., Maine, N.H., R.I., and Vt.): Sherry Pocknett of Sly Fox Den Too in Charlestown, R.I.
  • Northwest (Alaska, Hawaii, Ore., and Wash): Vince Nguyen of Berlu in Portland
  • South (Ala., Ark., Fla., La., Miss., and Puerto Rico: Natalia Vallejo of Cocina al Fondo in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Southeast (Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C., Tenn, and W. Va.): Terry Koval of The Deer and the Dove in Decatur, Ga.
  • Southwest (Ariz., N.M., Nev., and Okla.): Andrew Black of Grey Sweater in Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Texas: Benchawan Jabthong Painter of Street to Kitchen in Houston

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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