On Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards, its first after a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus. In general, Portland was snubbed in the national categories, although Akkapong Earl Ninsom finally nabbed an outstanding restaurateur nomination; additionally, the city earned two nominations in the best chef: Northwest and Pacific category.
In February, the James Beard Foundation announced the list of 2022 semifinalists, which included seven Oregonian candidates: Ninsom (Hat Yai, Langbaan) for outstanding restaurateur, Thuy Pham (Mama Đút) for emerging chef, República for best new restaurant, Coquine for outstanding hospitality, Hiyu Wine Farm in Hood River for outstanding wine program, and Carlo Lamagna (Magna Kusina), Vince Nguyen (Berlu), Thomas Pisha-Duffly (Oma’s Hideaway), and Jonathan Jones (Epilogue Kitchen & Cocktails in Salem) for best chef: Northwest and Pacific. Of the pool of semifinalists, three ended up making the short list: Ninsom for outstanding restaurateur, and Lamagna and Pisha-Duffly for best chef: Northwest and Pacific. Ninsom made the semifinalist list in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for outstanding restaurateur; this is his first nomination in that category. When it comes to the local nominees, these are both firsts in this category: Gado Gado was nominated for best new restaurant in 2020, but Pisha-Duffly hasn’t been nominated for the local category before this year; this is Lamagna’s first nomination.
Over the last two years, the James Beard Foundation has reshaped its categories and nomination practices, responding to mounting criticism and an audit of the organization and its awards. The James Beard Foundation will announce the winners in Chicago on June 13, 2022.