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James Beard Awards 2022 Semifinalists: Miami Chefs Get the Recognition They Deserve

Chef Niven Patel is a James Beard semifinalist.
Chef Niven Patel is a James Beard semifinalist. Photo courtesy of Mamey
The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists in the restaurant and chef categories for 2022, and South Florida has a passel of reasons to be proud. Eleven local chefs and establishments have been recognized for exemplary achievement in the culinary field in six categories.

The pandemic wreaked havoc on the annual awards that celebrate culinary excellence. The James Beard Foundation canceled the ceremony after announcing the semifinalists for the 2020 awards as COVID-19 shut down dining rooms and bars. In 2021, the organization opted to forgo the traditional ceremony, replacing it with a celebration called James Beard Awards: Stories of Resilience and Leadership.

The foundation also took that time to re-examine its policies and procedures, noting in a statement that "the Awards underwent a full audit of its policies and procedures, continuing the work to remove bias, increase transparency and accessibility, and making the program more aligned with the Foundation's mission and values."

This year marks the return of the awards, and South Florida chefs and establishments are well represented among the semifinalists.

Venerable chef Michael Schwartz was nominated in the "Outstanding Chef" category, while Zak the Baker's Zak Stern got a nod for "Outstanding Baker" and Antonio Bachour for "Outstanding Pastry Chef."

Pablo Zitzman, who turned a pandemic dumpling business into a restaurant, was recognized for "Best New Restaurant" for his Coral Gables' spot, Zitz Sum. And cantinero Julio Cabrera and his team at Cafe La Trova received acknowledgment for their efforts in the "Outstanding Bar Program" category.

South Florida veritably dominated the "Best Chef South" category, recognizing outstanding culinary efforts by chefs in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico. Michael Beltran (Ariete); Valerie, Nando, and Fernando Chang (Itamae); Clay Conley (Buccan); Jeremy Ford (Stubborn Seed); Niven Patel (Ghee Indian Kitchen); and Michael Pirolo (Macchialina) are all in the running for the honor.

It's been years since a Miami chef has brought home a Beard, an award that carries a lot of weight in the culinary community.

"We're thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the City of Miami," Beltran said of the news. "More so, we're honored to be named alongside so many talented peers. After the last 24 months, this is surely an emotional day for all of us. The only thing I continue to say over and over again, to myself, is that 'the job's not done. Miami, we will continue to grind for you."

Macchialina's Pirolo seconded the sentiment: "I'm elated to be nominated for a James Beard Award. I'm even happier to be joined by so many great Miami chefs. It's a testament to what a world-class dining destination Miami has become, and I'm honored to be a part of this closely knit restaurant community." 

Below is a list of semifinalists in categories populated by Miamians, with locals rendered in boldface (you can read the full list here):

Outstanding Chef
  • Reem Assil, Reem's, Oakland and San Francisco, CA
  • Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA
  • Andrew Black, Grey Sweater, Oklahoma City
  • Peter Chang, Peter Chang, VA and MD
  • Austin Covert, Rosewild, Fargo, ND
  • Christopher Gross, Christopher's, Phoenix, AZ
  • Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta, Phoenix, AZ
  • Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Kyle Knall, Birch, Milwaukee, WI
  • Emiliano Marentes, Elemi, El Paso, TX
  • Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles, CA
  • Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, Honolulu, HI
  • Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction, CO
  • Alex Raij and Eder Montero, La Vara, NYC
  • Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, Don Angie, NYC
  • Michael Schwartz, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
  • Douglass Williams, MIDA, Boston, MA
  • Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore, MD
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle, WA
Best New Restaurant: A restaurant opened in 2020 or 2021 that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine and hospitality and seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
  • Abaca, San Francisco, CA
  • Angry Egret Dinette, Los Angeles, CA
  • Bacanora, Phoenix, AZ
  • Barda, Detroit, MI
  • Café Mamajuana, Burlington, VT
  • Casian Seafood, Lafayette, CO
  • Dhamaka, NYC
  • Fritai, New Orleans. LA
  • Gage & Tollner, NYC
  • Horn BBQ, Oakland, CA
  • Kasama, Chicago, IL
  • Kimika, NYC
  • Laser Wolf, Philadelphia, PA
  • Leeward, Portland, ME
  • Lengua Madre, New Orleans, LA
  • Machete, Greensboro, NC
  • Matia Kitchen & Bar, Orcas Island, WA
  • The Marble Table, Billings, MT
  • Nani's Piri Piri Chicken, Asheville, NC
  • NiHao, Baltimore, MD
  • Owamni, Minneapolis, MN
  • Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.
  • Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, San Leon, TX
  • República, Portland, OR
  • Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, TX
  • Sooper Secret Izakaya, Honolulu, HI
  • Union Hmong Kitchen, Minneapolis
  • Ursula, NYC NY
  • Zacatlán Restaurant, Santa Fe, NM
  • Zitz Sum, Coral Gables, FL
Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Antonio Bachour, Bachour, Coral Gables and Doral, FL
  • Nicolas Blouin, Destination Kohler, Kohler, WI
  • Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie, Detroit, MI
  • Mark Chacón, Chacónne Patisserie, Phoenix, AZ
  •  Angela Cicala, Cicala at the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia, PA
  • Kate Fisher Hamm, Leeward, Portland, ME
  • Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu, HI
  • Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles, CA
  • Claudia Martinez, Miller Union, Atlanta, GA
  • Elise Mensing, Brasserie by Niche, St. Louis, MO
  • Camari Mick, The Musket Room, NYC, NY
  • Ruben Ortega, Xochi, Houston, TX
  • Shannah Primiano, Porto, Chicago, IL
  • Rabii Saber, Four Seasons, Orlando, FL
  • Caroline Schiff, Gage & Tollner, NYC, NY
  • Anne Specker, Kinship, Washington, D.C.
  • Krystle Swenson, The Social Haus, Greenough, MT
  • Sofia Tejeda, Mixtli, San Antonio, TX
  • Jen Yee, Hopkins and Company, Atlanta, GA
Outstanding Baker
  • David Cáceres, La Panadería, San Antonio, TX
  • Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies, Chicago, IL
  • Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME
  • Susannah Gebhart, Old World Levain (OWL) Bakery, Asheville, NC
  • Marissa and Mark Gencarelli, Yoli Tortilleria, Kansas City, MO
  • Joseph, Archalous, and Caroline Geragosian, Old Sasoon Bakery, Pasadena, CA
  • Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ
  • Aaron Hall, The Local Crumb, Mount Vernon, IA
  •  Mike Hirao, Nisshodo Candy Store, Honolulu, HI
  • Clement Hsu, Katherine Campecino-Wong, and James Wong, Breadbelly, San Francisco, CA
  • Nobutoshi "Nobu" Mizushima and Yuko Kawashiwo, Ihatov Bread and Coffee, Albuquerque, NM
  • Evette Rahman, Sister Honey's, Orlando, FL
  • Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks, Second Daughter Baking Co., Philadelphia, PA
  • Caroline Schweitzer and Lauren Heemstra, Wild Crumb, Bozeman, MT
  • Khatera Shams, Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe, Boise, ID
  • Zak Stern, Zak the Baker, Miami, FL
  • Elaine Townsend, Café Mochiko, Cincinnati, OH
  • Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop, Richardson, TX
  • Louis Volle, Lodi, NYC, NY
  • Pamela Vuong, The Flour Box, Seattle, WA
Outstanding Bar Program
  • Alley Twenty Six, Durham, NC
  • Attaboy, Nashville, TN
  • Avenue Pub, New Orleans, LA
  • Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu, HI
  • Barmini by José Andrés, Washington, D.C.
  • Cafe La Trova, Miami
  • Chapel Tavern, Reno, NV
  • Friends and Family, Oakland, CA
  • Genever, Los Angeles, CA
  • Goodkind, Milwaukee, WI
  •  The Jewel Box, Portland, ME
  • Julep, Houston, TX
  • La Factoría, San Juan, PR
  • Las Almas Rotas, Dallas, TX
  • Llama San, NYC, NY
  • Nobody's Darling, Chicago, IL
  • Shelby, Detroit, MI
  • Valkyrie, Tulsa, OK
  • Vicia, St. Louis, MO
  • Water Witch, Salt Lake City, UT
Best Chef South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)
  • Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith, Saint-Germain, New Orleans, LA
  • Michael Beltran, Ariete, Miami, FL
  • Valerie, Nando, and Fernando Chang, Itamae, Miami, FL
  • Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach, FL
  • Adam Evans, Automatic Seafood and Oysters, Birmingham, AL
  • Jeremy Ford, Stubborn Seed, Miami Beach, FL
  • Hao Gong, LUVI Restaurant, New Orleans, LA
  • Francis Guzmán, Vianda, San Juan, PR
  • Timothy Hontzas, Johnny's Restaurant, Homewood, AL
  • Melissa M. Martin, Mosquito Supper Club, New Orleans, LA
  • Matthew McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR
  • Abel Mendoza, Estela, Rincón, PR
  • Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando, FL
  • Michael Nelson, GW Fins, New Orleans, LA
  • Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Miami, FL
  • Alex Perry, Vestige, Ocean Springs, MS
  • Michael Pirolo, Macchialina, Miami Beach, FL
  • Allison Richard, High Hat Cafe, New Orleans, LA
  • Rafael Rios, Yeyo's, Bentonville, AR
  • Isaac Toups, Toups' Meatery, New Orleans, LA
Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 16; winners of the 2022 awards will be revealed at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The ceremony will be livestreamed via jamesbeard.com.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss