The Queen of Creole Cuisine Leah Chase received the night’s highest honor—the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by John Besh and Marcus Samuelsson. She remarked in her acceptance speech, “Madisonville, just look at me now. Along way from the strawberry patch.”
The James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, beating out five other nominees, was Shaya, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans’ Garden District neighborhood. The restaurant’s owner and executive chef, Alon Shaya, a ProStart mentor, said in his acceptance speech, “New Orleans is the best food city in the world right now. We have so many wonderful things going on.”
Alon Shaya won the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Chef: South and Shaya is the second New Orleans establishment to win the Best New Restaurant Award. Donald Link’s Peche Restaurant won in 2014.
This year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef: South went to Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, which he owns with his wife Mia Freiberger-Devillier, in the same block of Magazine Street as Shaya Restaurant. Also nominated were Slade Rushing of Brennan’s and Isaac Toups of Toups’ Meatery.
Best Chef: South is one of 10 regional chef honors awarded annually and Devillier has been a finalist several times before. He joins a renowned group of New Orleans chefs to have received the Best Chef: South distinction—Frank Brigtsen, Susan Spicer, Emeril Lagasse, John Besh and Donald Link.
Donald Link of Herbsaint and Cochon was nominated for Outstanding Chef. Outstanding Bar Program yielded two nominations for New Orleans’ own Cure and Arnaud’s French 75, however the award went to Maison Premiere, a New Orleans-influenced bar in Brooklyn. Commander’s Palace was nominated for Outstanding Wine Service.