From Asheville to Honolulu, here are the 2022 James Beard Award winners

From Asheville to Honolulu, here are the 2022 James Beard Award winners
Chai Pani executive chef and founder Meherwan Irani took home the 2022 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant. (contributed)

Chai Pani, which serves affordable Indian street food in North Carolina, is the best restaurant in America.

The Asheville eatery was named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on Monday, topping nominees such as Brennan’s in New Orleans.

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It was the first time the honors were awarded in two years, after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 so the foundation could remove systemic bias and as lockdowns to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus forced the temporary closure of many U.S. restaurants.

The awards also come as Americans are paying the highest prices for food in four decades amid surging inflation that is threatening the broader economy.

This year’s award recipients and the nominee slate were more diverse to better reflect the makeup of the U.S. There was also more geographic variety, rather than years past when many winners came out of New York or Chicago.

The menu at Chai Pani, whose name literally translates to tea and water, features Indian snacks called “chaat” that are known for a mix of spicy, sweet and tangy flavors. Other winners included the Native American restaurant Owamni in Minneapolis, where the staff is 75% indigenous, as Best New Restaurant.


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Outstanding Baker was Don Guerra at Barrio Bread in Tucson, Arizona, where he uses ancient grains that have seeds adapted to grow in the desert.

Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, was named Outstanding Chef. Chris Bianco of Tratto, Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix was named Outstanding Restaurateur.

Dawn Padmore, vice president of awards, said the foundation did a “deep dive” on itself during its hiatus.

“Looking at the audience and seeing so many different people, it feels different,” Padmore said. “It’s about reflecting the true diversity of the industry.”

See the full list of winners below.

  • Outstanding Restaurant: Chai Pani, Asheville, North Carolina.
  • Outstanding Chef: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Georgia.
  • Best New Restaurant: Owamni, Minneapolis.
  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix.
  • Emerging Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin, Texas.
  • Outstanding Baker: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Arizona.
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie in Detroit.
  • Outstanding Wine Program: The Four Horsemen, New York.
  • Outstanding Bar Program: Julep, Houston.
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Cúrate, Asheville, North Carolina.

Best Chefs

  • Best Chef: California – Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco.
  • Best Chef: Southwest – Fernando Olea, Sazón, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Best Chef: Midwest – Dave Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee.
  • Best Chef: Mountain – Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora, Colorado.
  • Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific – Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu.
  • Best Chef: Texas – Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin, Texas.
  • Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic – Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia.
  • Best Chef: New York State – Chintan Pandya, Dhamaka, New York.
  • Best Chef: South – Adam Evans, Automatic Seafood & Oysters, Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Best Chef: Southeast – Ricky Moore, SALTBOX Seafood Joint, Durham, North Carolina.
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Nisachon Morgan, Saap, Randolph, Vermont.
  • Best Chef: Great Lakes – Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago.

(With assistance from Kate Krader.)

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