DC chefs win big at James Beard Foundation Awards

Plus, Fireworks Pizza opens in Sterling—and more food world news.

The restaurant industry’s most important awards were given out on Monday in Chicago, and the James Beard Foundation’s new mission statement, “Good food for good,” played an important role in who won.

“Inclusivity would appear to be the new normal for the James Beard Awards less than a year after the organization announced rule changes to diversify its powerful committees that help decide the nominees,” wrote Tim Carman for The Washington Post.

Twelve women, people of color or both were awarded medals, including two for DC: Tom Cunanan won for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, for the Filipino restaurant Bad Saint, and Kwame Onwuachi won for Rising Star Chef of the Year for his restaurant on the Wharf dedicated to African foodways, Kith / Kin.

Writing for Eater, Hillary Dixler Canavan called Onwuachi’s speech “rousing,” in which he called on the “community to recognize cooking as the inclusive craft it can be and highlighting the significance of his Rising Star Chef win.” From the podium, he said, “Fifty-four years ago, the last restaurant was integrated and Jim Crow was lifted. And here I am, my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” His medal, he said, is for “my ancestors who have worked in kitchens for hundreds of years, with no recognition and no choice, just in order to survive.”

Patrick O’Connell, the celebrated chef and owner of Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. It was not lost on the crowd that this award for O’Connell, a five-time Beard winner and a three-star Michelin chef, represented another moment of inclusion, this time for the LGBTQ community. Tweets local food writer David Hagadorn, “Can I just say as a proud LGBTQ ex-chef, we were always there in the kitchens, hiding when we had to, and now here we are, walking away with the Beard Awards. And Patrick O’Connell is the Pied Piper.

News, events, etc. 

Fireworks Pizza opened its third location, now in Cascades Overlook in Sterling. [The Burn]

Alexandria’s Old Town Cocktail Week ends on Saturday with a slew of events, including a shrub tasting at Red Barn Mercantile and a tiki seminar at Columbia Firehouse. [Visit Alexandria]

Don’t spend money on over-cooked poached eggs at brunch: Get your mom a new food processor. [Bon Appetit]

There’s still time to start your garden. [Brossman Farm Stand]

Or forage for morels. [Vablonsky]

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