The James Beard Awards winners for 2018 were announced last night. Considered one of the most prestigious honors in the American restaurant community, the awards ceremony honors achievements in service, bar programs, baking, restaurant design, and more. NYC restaurants and chefs took in three major awards, including for outstanding chef.
This year’s outstanding chef award — the topmost accolade for chefs at the ceremony — went to NYC chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune. The famed chef is working on her second memoir after the popularity of her first, Blood, Bones, and Butter. Hamilton opened Prune in the East Village in 1999, and it remains a staple in the neighborhood nearly two decades later.
The title of best chef in NYC was given to Missy Robbins of Lilia, who was up against Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, Estela’s Ignacio Mattos, Empellón’s Alex Stupak, and Buvette’s Jody Williams. Robbins spent multiple years away from running a kitchen before she made her grand return with Williamsburg Italian hotspot Lilia. She formerly ran Chicago’s famed Spiaggia.
Winning for outstanding restaurant design in the 75 seats and under category, The MP Shift designers Amy Morris, Anna Polonsky, and Julie Nerenberg were honored for the making of hip Nolita all-day cafe De Maria. The restaurant opened last February and made Eater NY’s list of most beautiful restaurants for its clean lines.
It’s a big year for female chefs and female-run restaurants and design firms in NYC — a change considering that historically, women tend to get shut out of the awards despite having cooking talent, running some of the busiest and most coveted restaurants in NYC, and being undeniably influential on the dining scene. On that note, when Hamilton accepted her medal, she said “It would make me so happy, I would be so grateful, if I didn’t read tomorrow that the only reason I got this is because I’m a woman.”