Not a single D.C. restaurant or chef won a James Beard award during last night's ceremony in Chicago. Two locals were among the final nominees: Bread Furst's Mark Furstenberg was up for a Outstanding Baker, and Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang was in the running for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Both left empty handed.
The District was particularly slighted in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category where not a single D.C. chef even made the final five. In years past, D.C. talent has dominated the category. The award ultimately went just a brief road trip away to Woodberry Kitchen's Spike Gjerde.
Why no love for D.C.? Washingtonian critic (and Y&H alum) Todd Kliman talked to a number of prominent food critics, anonymously, about their perceptions of the city's food scene. And while they describe it as "growing" and "improving," they knock it for the perceived lack of culinary identity. The majority wouldn't even place the District in the top 10 American food cities.
"D.C.’s identity as the country’s political epicenter far overshadows its restaurant reputation," one anonymous food writer told Kliman.
"D.C. in the minds of food lovers remains a place where great restaurants are seen as an event rather than an expectation," another (again anonymous) critic said.
Whatever, anonymous outsiders. There's always next year. Sometimes it pays to be the underdog.
Find the full list of James Beard winners here.
Photo via the James Beard Foundation