January 27, 2023

Philadelphia-area restaurateurs — a mix of veterans and newcomers — featured prominently in the list of semifinalists for the 2023 James Beard Awards announced today.

This list will be aligned with a list of nominees to be announced on March 29th. The awards ceremony will take place on June 5th in Chicago.

This year’s Philadelphia nominees include several repeats from last year: Ellen Yin of High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street) for Outstanding Restaurateur; Friday Saturday Sunday for excellent restaurant; Her Place Supper Club’s Amanda Shulman in the Emerging Chef category; and Jesse Ito of Royal Izakaya for Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic.

Among the “newcomers” is a real veteran. Chef Shigeru Fukuyoshi of Sagami in Collingswood, a contender for Best Chef, opened his restaurant in 1974. (Sagami was a semi-finalist for Best Restaurant in 2017 and 2019.)

A tiny spot is reserved for the best new restaurant in the United States: South Philadelphia’s Heavy Metal Sausage Co., chef Patrick Alfiero and Melissa Pellegrino’s sausage and sandwich shop by day, and a trattoria by night with a pop-up tasting menu.

Two semi-finalists for Best Bakery are Denise’s Delicacies, Denise Gause’s North Philly bakery, and Mighty Bread Co., Chris DiPiazza’s South Philly shop, while Machine Shop’s Emily Riddell is up for pastry chef or baker.

Vernick Food & Drink is a semi-finalist for Hospitality, beer specialist Monk’s Cafe made it into the Outstanding Wine and Beverage Programs category, and Le Caveau, above the Good King Tavern, is nominated for Best Bar.

The Regional Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic award recognizes chefs in Washington, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Of the 20 semifinalists, five are from Philadelphia — Laser Wolf’s Andrew Henshaw, Royal Sushi’s Jesse Ito, Cantina La Martina’s Dionicio Jiménez, Gabriella’s Vietnam’s Thanh Nguyen, and Kalaya’s Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon — while Park Place Cafe’s Philip Manganaro is in Merchantville and Melissa McGrath of Sweet Amalia Market & Kitchen in Newfield are from South Jersey.

Regarded as one of the restaurant industry’s most prestigious awards, the James Beard Awards have been paused in 2020 and 2021 over concerns about racial equality and the behavior of nominees.

(Disclosure: Some current employees of Inquirer have served on or are part of the James Beard Awards voting panel.)

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