James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (2022)

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Birmingham is an awesome city for food. If you need proof, take a look at the long list of awards our restaurants and chefs have won over the years, including seven — count ‘em, seven — James Beard Awards.

These awards, often called the “Oscars of the food world,” are presented by the James Beard Foundation. Established in 1990, the awards are named after an iconic chef, cookbook author and pioneering TV personality.

“The mission of the James Beard Awards is to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” the foundation’s website says.

That’s quite a mouthful, so let’s just say the awards celebrate the best of the best in food and dining. And the Birmingham winners are:

James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (1)

Won: Best Chef in the South, 2022.

Plus: Automatic Seafood was a Beard nominee in 2020 for Best New Restaurant.

On the menu: Coconut curry Gulf Shrimp, duck fat poached swordfish, roasted spear caught snapper, seared tuna belly, grilled oysters, blackened amberjack and more.

Good to know: Evans grew up in Muscle Shoals and graduated from Auburn University. He worked at some of the top restaurants in New Orleans, New York and Atlanta before returning to his home state to found his own restaurant. Automatic Seafood opened in 2019 in Birmingham’s Lakeview neighborhood, and has earned kudos from Esquire magazine and Thrillist, along with a devoted following.

More info: Automatic Seafood & Oysters, 2824 Fifth Ave. South, Birmingham, 205-580-1600 or https://www.automaticseafood.com/.

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James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (2)

Won: Outstanding Restaurant in America, 2018.

Plus: Highlands was nominated in this category for nine consecutive years before its win, 2009-2017.

On the menu: “Our daily-changing menu, rooted in classic French technique, features the best from each harvest,” the restaurant’s website says. “We anticipate the cooler weather game of venison and quail, root vegetables and greens; the first springtime shad roe and the blue-green, live and kickin’ soft shell crabs arriving a few weeks later, followed by summer’s shell beans, tomatoes and okra.”

Good to know: “I think one of the reasons we’re all here is that we’ve been caught up (in) the magic of restaurants and striving for excellence and trying to create a little bit of beauty in one’s work and, hopefully, in our guests’ day,” chef Frank Stitt said at 2018 ceremony. “And it comes from respect in our relationships with our farmers, with our staff, with our guests. Basically, we’ve got a really big family that’s been working on this since 1982, and there’s a lot of love in our heart.”

More info: Highlands Bar & Grill, 2011 11th Ave. South, Birmingham, 205-939-1400 or https://highlandsbarandgrill.com/

Note: Highlands has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but is set to reopen in 2022, date TBA.

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James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (3)

Won: Outstanding Pastry Chef in America, 2018.

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Plus: Miles was nominated in this category for four consecutive years before her win, 2014-2017, according to the website for the Beard Awards.

On the menu: Miles earned kudos for preparing desserts such as lemon meringue tart, strawberry cobbler and chocolate pot de crème. Her most famous creation, however, is coconut-pecan cake.

Good to know: “Miles grew up in Bessemer, where she got an early education in dessert-making while helping her mother, Cora Mae Miles, and aunt, Queen Ester Harris, bake sweet potato pies and German chocolate cake,” Bob Carlton of AL.com said in a 2022 feature story. “After graduating from Wenonah High School in 1975, Miles studied computer science at Alabama A&M University and Lawson State Community College.She found her true passion, though, when she went to work in the pastry kitchen at Vincent’s restaurant in Riverchase.”

More info: Miles retired from Highlands in December 2021, after nearly 40 years at the restaurant. She started as garde-manger, or pantry chef, responsible for salads and cold appetizers. Miles became the pastry chef at Highlands in 1988.

RELATED: James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Dolester Miles, an Alabama treasure, retires

Won: Best Chef in the Southeast, 2001.

Plus: Nominee for Outstanding Chef in America, 2008-2011; named to the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, 2011; nominee for Best Chef in the Southeast, 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1996.

Good to know: Stitt is the owner and executive chef of Highlands Bar & Grill, Bottega, Bottega Cafe and Chez Fonfon.”Stitt, a Cullman native, has changed the dining landscape in Birmingham and brought international acclaim to the city since he opened Highlands Bar and Grill in Five Points South in 1982,” said Bob Carlton of AL.com. “Some of Birmingham’s top chefs and restaurateurs have trained under Stitt at Highlands and at his and his wife’s other three restaurants.” In a 2013 profile, Garden & Gun called Stitt “the godfather of Southern cuisine.”

More info: Highlands Bar & Grill, 2011 11th Ave. South, Birmingham, 205-939-1400 or https://highlandsbarandgrill.com/

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James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (5)

Won: Best Chef in the South, 2012.

Plus: Hastings was nominated in this category for five consecutive years, 2007-2011, before his win, according to the website for the Beard Awards.

Quotable: “It’s hard to put it in perspective,” Hastings told AL.com after his win. “We’ve worked all our lives for this moment, and that it is here is very special.”

On the menu: Wood oven roasted red snapper, Jim’s steak, seafood tagliatelle, duo of duck, chicken roulade, Hot & Hot tomato salad and more.

Good to know: Hastings and his wife Idie opened Hot & Hot in 1995 at 2180 11th Court South. In 2021, the restaurant moved to a new location in Pepper Place. The couple also owns and operates OvenBird, a live-fire restaurant in Pepper Place.

More info: Hot & Hot Fish Club, 2901 2nd Avenue South, Suite 110, Birmingham, 205-933-5474 or https://www.hotandhotfishclub.com/.

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Won: America’s Classic award, 2010.

What that means: “Each year since 1998 the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee has recognized our nation’s beloved regional restaurants,” the foundation’s website says. “Distinguished by their timeless appeal, they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities. We anoint these locally owned restaurants with a James Beard Foundation Award and designate them as America’s Classics.”

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On the menu: Baked jumbo stuffed shrimp, Greek-style snapper throats, prime rib of beef, breaded veal steak, Italian spaghetti and meatballs and more.

Good to know: “No Alabama restaurant has aged as gracefully as Bessemer’s 115-year-old Bright Star,” said Bob Carlton of AL.com. “The Bright Star was founded by Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris in 1907 and has remained in the Bonduris/Koikos family ever since. … Famous for its Greek-style tenderloin, fried snapper throats, seafood gumbo and coconut pie, the Bright Star is one of those classic restaurants that never gets old. It just gets better with age.” Carlton included The Bright Star in his list of”15 Alabama restaurants that have stood the test of time.”

More info: The Bright Star, 304 19th Street North, Bessemer, 205-426-1861 or https://thebrightstar.com/.

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James Beard Awards: 7 Birmingham restaurants and chefs honored by ‘Oscars of the food world’ (7)

Won: Best Chef in the Southeast, 2018, for his work at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina.

Good to know: Scott was the first Black chef to win the Southeast chef award and only the second barbecue pitmaster to win any chef award from the Beard foundation.

Birmingham connection: Scott partnered with Birmingham restaurateur Nick Pihakis to open a Magic City branch of his restaurant. Rodney Scott’s BBQ made its debut in 2019 in the Avondale neighborhood, in the former location of Saigon Noodle House and Bottletree Cafe. A Homewood location was added in 2021, at 2701 18th St. South, Unit 100. Another location opened in August in Trussville, at 312 Main St.

On the menu: BBQ pork sandwich, spare ribs, beef brisket, turkey club sandwich, Pig Out salad, catfish fingers, prime rib sandwich and more.

More info: Rodney Scott’s BBQ, 3719 Third Ave. South, Birmingham, 205-506-2711 or https://www.rodneyscottsbbq.com/locations/.

RELATED: The story of Rodney and Nick, brothers in barbecue

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FAQs

What does it mean to be a James Beard award winner? ›

The James Beard Awards recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

How do you win the James Beard award? ›

Process
  1. The Media Awards (Book, Broadcast Media, and Journalism) conduct Open Call for Entries that require an entry fee of $75.00 per entry. ...
  2. The Restaurant and Chef and Leadership Awards conduct an Open Call for Recommendations, in addition to recommendations provided by the Awards program's voting body.

Who is the best chef in America 2022? ›

2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award winners:

Outstanding Chef: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Georgia. Outstanding Restaurant: Chai Pani, Asheville, North Carolina. Emerging Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin, Texas. Best New Restaurant: Owamni, Minneapolis.

Who is the best chef in Alabama? ›

Hank Evans, this is for you.” Evans, in his early 40s, is no stranger to the James Beard Awards. In 2020, Automatic Seafood and Oysters was named a finalist for the best new restaurant in America. RELATED: Alabama chef Adam Evans on James Beard nomination: 'Unreal!

What is the highest award for a chef? ›

The Michelin star is undoubtedly the highest honour within the international culinary industry. Some people have gone as far as calling them “the Oscars of the culinary world”. Chefs all across the world dedicate their lives to earning just one coveted star in recognition of their excellence.

What is the difference between a James Beard award and a Michelin star? ›

This makes a Michelin star unique from other accolades such as a James Beard Award, which acknowledges the restaurant where a chef works, but bestows the honor on her or him. If a chef leaves a restaurant to work elsewhere, the restaurant's Michelin stars do not come with them.

Who won the 2022 James Beard Awards? ›

2022 James Beard Awards

How do you get a Michelin star? ›

To earn one star, a restaurant must be considered "a very good restaurant in its category." For two stars, the criteria is "excellent cooking, worth a detour." To qualify for the elusive three stars, a restaurant must serve up "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

When did the James Beard Award start? ›

1991. The first James Beard Foundation Awards are given, honoring chefs and restaurants across the country.

Why did Gordon Ramsay lost his Michelin stars? ›

The reason is simple: his dishes weren't consistent. That said, Ramsay is still incredibly popular in the industry. His eatery, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, has been awarded three Michelin stars since 2001; Ramsay is also the first Scottish chef to win three Michelin stars.

Who is considered the best chef in America? ›

Thomas Keller is the USA's most decorated chef, with a current total of seven Michelin stars.

Who is the best woman chef in the world? ›

Ahead of its awards ceremony scheduled for 18 July in London, The World's 50 Best Restaurants has named Leonor Espinosa as the winner of The World's Best Female Chef 2022 award.

Who is the top 10 chefs in the world? ›

Meet The Top 10 Chefs In The World
  • Wolfgang Puck. Austrian-American chef, restaurateur and actor Wolfgang Puck is a force to be reckoned with. ...
  • Jamie Oliver. ...
  • Heston Blumenthal. ...
  • Ferran Adria. ...
  • Marco Pierre White. ...
  • Gordon Ramsay. ...
  • Shannon Bennett. ...
  • Thomas Keller.
23 Aug 2021

What is the most prestigious restaurant award? ›

The Michelin Guide

The Michelin Guide's awarded Michelin Stars have become the most coveted and respected culinary award a restaurant or chef can receive.

Who is the most famous chef in the world? ›

1. Gordon Ramsay. Surprise, surprise – to no one, Gordon Ramsay is the most popular chef in the world. The ultra-famous chef and TV personality is probably the most well-known celebrity chef ever.

Who has the most Michelin Stars in the world? ›

Top 10 Chefs with the Most Michelin Stars
  • Joël Robuchon: 32 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Alain Ducasse: 21 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Gordon Ramsay: 17 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Pierre Gagnaire: 14 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Martin Berasategui: 12 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Yannick Alléno: 10 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Andreas Caminada: 9 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Anne-Sophie Pic: 9 Michelin Stars.
8 Aug 2022

How does a restaurant get a Michelin Star rating? ›

A Michelin Star is awarded for outstanding cooking. We take into account the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of flavours, the mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef as expressed in their cuisine and, just as importantly, consistency both over time and across the entire menu.

Are Michelin restaurants worth it? ›

Achieving the status of a Michelin Star rating is one of the most coveted accolades for a restaurant. It lets consumers know that it ranks as the best in the world for food and dining experience. Food-lovers are always in for a treat when visiting a Michelin Star Restaurant.

Who has won the most Beard Awards? ›

Patrick O'Connell, the chef/owner behind three Michelin starred Inn at Little Washington is one of the most regular winners having been awarded a James Beard medal five-times and has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his four decades of work at the Inn.

Does a chef cook? ›

According to the Cambridge dictionary, a cook is 'someone who prepares and cooks food', while a chef is 'a skilled and trained cook who works in a hotel or restaurant'. These definitions imply that a chef is a type of cook, but they differ in that a chef has developed learned skills, and has undergone training.

Did Sheldon win Top chef? ›

In the season finale, Kristen Kish was declared the winner over runner-up Brooke Williamson. Sheldon Simeon was voted Fan Favorite.
...
Top Chef: Seattle
No. of contestants24
WinnerKristen Kish
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes17
12 more rows

What is the salary of a Michelin Star chef? ›

The average chef michelin star salary in the United Kingdom is £27,000 per year or £13.85 per hour. Entry level positions start at £24,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to £38,000 per year.

Do Michelin stars expire? ›

Twisted notes that Michelin star restaurants in each region are reevaluated year after year, so in order to keep stars indefinitely, a restaurant must remain consistently award-worthy and innovative.

How hard is it to get a Michelin Star? ›

Michelin stars are given out on a scale of one to three stars, with only the top establishments in the world qualifying. To earn one Michelin star, a restaurant needs to be “a very good restaurant in this category”. For two stars, it needs to be “excellent cooking, worth a detour”.

How did the James Beard Award start? ›

The first awards were given in 1991. By shining a spotlight on the people behind the food we were learning to appreciate and enjoy, the James Beard Awards preempted the era of the celebrity chef we now take for granted. See more about the Awards.

Who created the James Beard Award? ›

These awards were created in 1990 by chef and cookbook author James Beard, who was also the founder of The James Beard Foundation. Each year, five regional chefs are chosen as award finalists to compete for national recognition in their respective categories (e.g., Northeast Chef of the Year).

Why is James Beard so famous? ›

Known as the Dean of American Cookery, James Beard hosted the first cooking program in the history of television. The author of twenty-two cookbooks and many magazine and newspaper articles, he paved the way for today's celebrity chefs.

What chef made Gordon Ramsay cry? ›

White also once made a young Gordon Ramsay cry while Ramsay worked for him, and later said, "I don't recall what he'd done wrong but I yelled at him and he lost it. Gordon crouched down in the corner of the kitchen, buried his head in his hands and started sobbing."

Do the customers in Hell's kitchen pay? ›

Diners didn't have to pay for their meals, however — which makes sense, since a lot of times, they never see the food they ordered. In fact, as compensation for their time, each diner was paid $50. They weren't paid to act or react in any way, however.

Who trained Gordon Ramsay? ›

After earning a vocational diploma in hotel management from North Oxon Technical College in 1987, he moved to London and began honing his culinary skills under chef Marco Pierre White at the restaurant Harvey's and under chef Albert Roux at La Gavroche.

Who is the best female chef in America? ›

Best Female Chefs in the U.S.
  • Dominique Crenn. San Francisco, CA. ...
  • Renee Erickson. Seattle, WA. ...
  • Suzanne Goin. West Hollywood, CA. ...
  • Stephanie Izard. Chicago, IL. ...
  • Jennifer Jasinski. Denver, CO. ...
  • Barbara Lynch. Boston, MA. ...
  • Barbara Pollastrini. Santa Monica, CA. ...
  • Anne Quatrano. Atlanta, GA.

Who is the most famous TV chef? ›

Top 10 Recognizable Celebrity Chefs on Television
  • 8 Emeril Lagasse.
  • 7 Guy Fieri.
  • 6 Bobby Flay.
  • 5 Rachael Ray.
  • 4 Paula Deen.
  • 3 Duff Goldman.
  • 2 Giada De Laurentiis.
  • 1 Masaharu Morimoto.
8 Feb 2022

Who is the best female chef in the world 2022? ›

Chef Leonor Espinosa received The World's Best Female Chef accolade on 18th July at the awards ceremony for The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2022 in London, sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.

What famous cook went to jail? ›

In 2004, Stewart was convicted of felony charges related to the ImClone stock trading case; she served five months in federal prison and was released in March 2005.
...
Martha Stewart
Websitemarthastewart.com
Signature
8 more rows

What do you call a woman chef? ›

A chef is a chef, there is no female word for it.

How are James Beard nominees selected? ›

A committee of industry professionals decides on a candidate's eligibility for the Beard Foundation Awards after an open call period that spans several months. Recommendations for inclusion are sent by, or for, restaurants, chefs, and creatives.

What is James Beard best known for? ›

James Beard, (born May 5, 1903, Portland, Oregon, U.S.—died January 23, 1985, New York, New York), American culinary expert who championed simple American and English dishes and wrote one of the first serious books on outdoor cooking. In 1945 he became the first chef to demonstrate cooking on network television.

What is James Beard most known for? ›

Known as the Dean of American Cookery, James Beard hosted the first cooking program in the history of television. The author of twenty-two cookbooks and many magazine and newspaper articles, he paved the way for today's celebrity chefs.

How did the James Beard Award start? ›

The first awards were given in 1991. By shining a spotlight on the people behind the food we were learning to appreciate and enjoy, the James Beard Awards preempted the era of the celebrity chef we now take for granted. See more about the Awards.

How do you get a Michelin star? ›

To earn one star, a restaurant must be considered "a very good restaurant in its category." For two stars, the criteria is "excellent cooking, worth a detour." To qualify for the elusive three stars, a restaurant must serve up "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

What chef has the most James Beard Awards? ›

Patrick O'Connell, the chef/owner behind three Michelin starred Inn at Little Washington is one of the most regular winners having been awarded a James Beard medal five-times and has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his four decades of work at the Inn.

When did the James Beard Award start? ›

1991. The first James Beard Foundation Awards are given, honoring chefs and restaurants across the country.

How was cooking invented? ›

The precise origins of cooking are unknown, but, at some point in the distant past, early humans conquered fire and started using it to prepare food. Researchers have found what appear to be the remains of campfires made 1.5 million years ago by Homo erectus, one of the early human species.

Who invented new American cuisine? ›

Bill Addison, restaurant editor/national critic for Eater.com, says New American developed from the cooking of such influential California chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters and Jonathan Waxman.

How much money did Julia Childs make? ›

Child was worth $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Which top chefs are from Portland? ›

Here are some of the most notable chefs recently bestowed with the honor:
  • Joshua McFadden. Book: Vegetable-Focused Cooking – 2018. ...
  • Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton. Best Chef: Northwest – 2017. ...
  • Naomi Pomeroy. Best Chef: Northwest – 2014. ...
  • Gabriel Rucker. ...
  • Ken Forkish. ...
  • Greg Higgins. ...
  • Peter Cho. ...
  • Katy Millard.
26 Aug 2022

Who has the most Michelin stars in the world? ›

Top 10 Chefs with the Most Michelin Stars
  • Joël Robuchon: 32 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Alain Ducasse: 21 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Gordon Ramsay: 17 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Pierre Gagnaire: 14 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Martin Berasategui: 12 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Yannick Alléno: 10 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Andreas Caminada: 9 Michelin Stars. ...
  • Anne-Sophie Pic: 9 Michelin Stars.
8 Aug 2022

Who created the James Beard Award? ›

These awards were created in 1990 by chef and cookbook author James Beard, who was also the founder of The James Beard Foundation. Each year, five regional chefs are chosen as award finalists to compete for national recognition in their respective categories (e.g., Northeast Chef of the Year).

How old was Julia Child when she died? ›

Julia Child, the celebrated chef, author and television personality who brought French cooking to American audiences, has died at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 91.

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