All of us who live in the City of Brotherly Love know just how immense and impressive the local food scene is—and so does James Beard. Well, the James Beard Awards rather, and in 2023, Philly won big.
Nominees from all over the country were in Chicago this week to attend the red-carpeted ceremony, which has been nicknamed the “Oscars of the food scene” to some. And Philadelphia was the bell of the ball per se, winning more than other major cities such as New York City, Chicago, Portland (Oregon) and Los Angeles.
For one, Ellen Yin won the Outstanding Restaurateur award.
Yin is the founder and co-owner of High Street Hospitality Group, which includes Fork Restaurant, High Street Philly, a.kitchen + bar, High Street on Hudson (their first outpost in New York City), High Street Provisions and The Wonton Project. The culinary group has had major success, and Yin truly knows her stuff—in fact, she literally wrote the book on it (her 2015 publication ‘Forklore: Recipes and Tales from an American Bistro.’)
At the ceremony, according to 6ABC, Yin spoke about her love for the food scene: “I fell in love with this industry when I was a teenager, but it took me 25 years to realize a restaurant was the first place that I felt a true sense of belonging,” Yin said. “To Philadelphia, you made me belong. Your ongoing commitment fostered a world class restaurant scene that represents our diversity, ethnicity, history and resiliency.”
Local Philadelphians and husband/wife team Chad and Hanna Williams also won big at the James Beard Awards with their Rittenhouse hotspot Friday Saturday Sunday for the Outstanding Restaurant Award.
The couple’s statement to Action News read: “We’re here. We made it. We have so many people to thank because it takes so many to make a restaurant outstanding. Everyone that cooks, preps, serves, pours. Our regulars. Our families and support systems. Our daughter Ruby. They all make it possible and push us to show up every day and execute the vision. We are truly honored, so grateful and, as two Philly natives, so proud to bring this one home.”
Another big Philly win came from Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, who won in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. When the Kalaya owner accepted the award, she referenced her mother—who the restaurant is named after—as her inspiration.
Other nominees from the city this year included Jesse Ito of renowned Japanese Queen’s Village spot Royal Sushi & Izakaya and Dionicio Jiménez of the recently opened Cantina La Martina. Amanda Shulman of the family-style Her Place Supper Club was up for the Emerging Chef award as well.
There’s also another winner in the drinks category. Toby Maloney, who is currently posted up at the acclaimed speakeasy Hop Sing Laundromat won his second James Beard Award. His first was in 2015 for an outstanding bar program at the Violet Hour, his popular cocktail bar in Chicago. In 2023 however, Maloney won for his book ‘The Bartender’s Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro’, which he worked on with Emma Janzen.
Philadelphians can try their own concoction by the bartender at Hop Sing, where the current model is guided by Maloney. When you sit down at the bar, he explains that over the next two hours, you are going to try a series of cocktails, and they’ll be based on drinks, liquors and flavors that you enjoy. So rather then a strictly menu-based ordering experience, you can enjoy a more personalized and detail-oriented drinking encounter.
Philadelphians and beyond can read about his work at Hop Sing Laundromat, owned by Lê, in his next book.
To find out more about the 2023 James Bear Award winners, visit jamesbeard.org/blog/the-2023-restaurant-and-chef-nominees