Asheville’s Chai Pani named best restaurant at 2022 James Beard Awards

Kelsey W. Popham


Mashama Bailey of The Gray in Savannah, Ga.

Image by Jeff Schear/Getty Photos for James Beard Foundation

It was a various globe the very last time the independent restaurant local community gathered in Chicago, in their tuxedos and glittering gowns, to rejoice the winners of the James Beard Foundation Awards.

It was 2019. No one understood what COVID was. And The united states experienced nonetheless to confront the racial reckoning that adopted the murder of George Floyd.

The awards, which honor the very best of the country’s independent dining establishments and bars, took the two decades of the pandemic off to reckon with its possess challenges of fairness and inclusion.

Regardless of a tornado warning at the outset that despatched many scurrying to the basement, the James Beard Awards returned to Chicago’s Lyric Opera Monday, with an viewers, slate of nominees and award winners who ended up substantially much more reflective of the diversity of American restaurants than in preceding several years.

Some awardees honored their immigrant dad and mom, some others approved their awards in Spanish or Sioux, and other people spoke of their struggles to construct a life in the United States.

“Thank you for betting on Black,” Mashama Bailey of The Gray in Savannah, Ga., explained although accepting her award for Fantastic Chef. “Black and brown people, immigrants and mom-and-pop outlets, have been effervescent underneath the area of this industry, operating really hard for a long time. I stand on the backs of several of them. And these days, a little Black woman or a minor Black boy can see on their own as a upcoming Outstanding Chef. They can see them selves in a house they have under no circumstances found on their own just before. And until eventually just a several minutes in the past, that was me.”

Below are the night’s huge award winners:

Fantastic Restaurateur: Chris Bianco Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix. “I was so moved by all the stories,” Bianco explained by tears. “I begun a pizzeria in 1988. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing then. I do not know what I am doing now. What I do know is that I am grateful.”

James Beard Awards

Chris Bianco accepts the Superb Restaurateur award. Photo courtesy: James Beard Basis Awards

Remarkable Chef: Mashama Bailey, The Gray, Savannah, Ga.

Excellent Cafe: Chai Pani, Asheville, N.C. “Each individual day, each and every act you do is an act of provider,” said proprietor Meherwan Irani.

James Beard Awards

Chai Pani operator Meherwan Irani accepts the Remarkable Cafe award. Image courtesy James Beard Basis Awards

Rising Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin

Very best New Cafe: Owamni, Minneapolis. “This is so significantly even bigger than us. Owamni is much more like a neighborhood spirit than everything else,” co-operator Dana Thompson.

James Beard Awards

The entrepreneurs of Owamni acknowledge the Best New Restaurant award. Photo courtesy James Beard Foundation Awards

Exceptional Pastry Chef: Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie, Detroit

Exceptional Baker: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Ariz.

Excellent Hospitality: Cúrate, Asheville, N.C.

Fantastic Wine Program: The 4 Horsemen, NYC

Exceptional Bar System: Julep, Houston

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