12 NYC Chefs and Restaurants Are Named James Beard Award Finalists

Plus, NYC’s Grace Young was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year honor for her work to save America’s Chinatowns.

Sylvia's Restaurant Harlem
Sylvia's Restaurant | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Sylvia's Restaurant | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2022 awards—and 12 NYC chefs and restaurants made the cut.

The long list of semifinalists was announced in February after the awards took a two-year hiatus amid COVID-19. From the whittled-down list of finalists, a winner for each award category will be announced and celebrated at a gala in Chicago on Monday, June 13.

In addition to finalists in the restaurant and chef categories, the foundation announced honorees for a handful of additional awards, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award, which went to NYC’s award-winning cookbook author, culinary historian, and filmmaker, Grace Young, for her work to save America’s Chinatowns and combat Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate during the pandemic.

"The Awards are a great reminder that we are among innovators, entrepreneurs, and trailblazers who represent a wide range of regions, cultures, and cooking philosophies," said Tanya Holland, chair of the James Beard Awards Committee.

Here’s a list of all the James Beard Award finalists hailing from NYC:

Best Chef: New York State

Five NYC chefs are finalists for the best chef award in New York State: Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, JJ Johnson of Fieldtrip, Ayesha Nurdjaja of Shuka, Chintan Pandya of Dhamaka, and Junghyun Park of Atomix. The award will honor chefs in 12 regions across the country who “set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions.”

Best New Restaurant

Two NYC restaurants were selected as finalists for the best new restaurant award: Dhamaka, a fiery provincial Indian restaurant located at Essex Market from chef and partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar, and Ursula, a laid-back New Mexican cafe and bakery in Crown Heights by Eric See. The award will go to a restaurant that “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.”

Outstanding Hospitality

Sylvia’s Restaurant, Harlem’s iconic destination for soul food operated by Thrillist Block Party maven, Tren’ness Woods-Black, that’s been a cornerstone of the community since 1962, was selected as a finalist for the award for outstanding hospitality. The category will honor a restaurant that has been open for at least five years that “demonstrates consistent and excellent hospitality and service to its dining community, while also making efforts to provide a sustainable work culture.”

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Caroline Schiff, the pastry chef whipping up layer cakes, baked Alaska, and more at Gage & Tollner, was honored as a finalist for the outstanding pastry chef award. The category will honor an exceptional chef who has been working with desserts for at least three years.

Outstanding Wine Program

Two NYC restaurants were selected as finalists for the outstanding wine program award: The Four Horsemen, a small plates restaurant and natural wine bar in Williamsburg run by owner and wine director Justin Chearno, and Frenchette, a bistro and bar run with a natural wine program by director and sommelier, Jorge Riera. The award will highlight a restaurant or bar with “a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.”

Emerging Chef

Calvin Eng, the chef and owner of the buzzy new Cantonese-American restaurant, Bonnie’s, was selected as a finalist for the emerging chef honor. The award will celebrate “a chef who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”

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Liz Provencher is an associate edior at Thrillist. See what she eats on Instagram.