February 23, 2022
After a two year break, the James Beard Foundation announced the 2022 restaurant and chef semifinalists nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award on Wednesday.
A total of 16 establishments in the Philadelphia region were included on the list. Among the group who made it are Ellen Yin of High Street Hospitality, Amanda Shulman of Her Place Supper Club and Friday Saturday Saturday in Rittenhouse Square.
In August of 2020, the organization made the decision to cancel the awards ceremony in light of the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its explanation was that the awards seemed "minor" compared with some of the challenges facing the restaurant and food industry during the public health crisis.
However, it was soon brought to light that the pandemic wasn't the only reason awards weren't being given out. The New York Times reported that several chefs were asked to withdraw nominations after their behavior in the kitchen was found to be too controversial. Racial inequity about the awards was also brought up, as there were no Black winners among the many who were nominated.
The foundation committed to conducting an audit of its policies and procedures in order to ensure more diversity and eliminate any systemic racial bias, which was concluded in September of 2021.
Some of this year's nominees from Philly were also on the list in 2020, including Royal Izakaya's Jesse Ito, Kalaya Thai Kitchen, and Cookie Till of Steve and Cookie's in Margate, NJ.
Shulman is nominated for an Emerging Chef award for her work at the sometimes restaurant, sometimes dinner party Her Place Supper Club. The small byob at 1740 Sansom St. has become extremely popular since it started as a pop-up this past summer. The rotating tasting menu and weekly reservation drops have helped make it one of the most creative restaurant concepts in the city.
Yin, who created High Street Hospitality Group along with Chef Eli Kulp, is nominated for an Outstanding Restaurateur award. Her Center City bistro, a.kitchen+bar, is also up for an Outstanding Wine Program award. The establishment has long been recognized for its list of innovative wines and spirits. It has received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator and was named one of the top 100 wine restaurants by Wine Enthusiast.
Last week, Corinne's Place in Camden was honored with an "America's Classic" designation by the James Beard Foundation, one of six awards presented to locally-owned businesses that have timeless appeal. Longtime Camden resident Corinne Bradley-Powers opened the restaurant in 1989. She told it it 2019, but remains a consultant for the new owner.
The list of Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware semifinalists is below. The full list of semifinalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards is available on the foundation's website.
• Laser Wolf, Philadelphia, PA
• Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality (Fork, a. kitchen+bar, High Street Philly), Philadelphia
• Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia
• Amanda Shulman, Her Place Supper Club, Philadelphia
• Angela Cicala, Cicala at the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia
• Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks, Second Daughter Baking Co., Philadelphia
• a. kitchen+bar, Philadelphia
• Anthony Andiaro, Andiaro, West Chester, PA
• Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ
• Adam Dlitz, Elwood, Philadelphia
• Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia
• Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia
• Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon, Kalaya Thai Kitchen, Philadelphia
• Antimo DiMeo, Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington, DE
• Bill Hoffman, The House of William & Merry, Hockessin, DE
In 2019, Michael Solomonov's Zahav was the winner of the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in the country. It was the only local winner.
The full list of semifinalists will be whittled down ahead of the awards presentation on March 16.