While much of the restaurant industry is simply hanging on by a thread during the pandemic, there's a bit of good news for some local chefs.
Four Portland restaurants and an additional four chefs are all finalists for James Beard Awards. The honor, named after the native Oregonian and acclaimed food writer, recognizes outstanding achievements in the culinary field.
Eem and Gado Gado are up for Best New Restaurant. Both were previously honored in WW's 2019 Grub guide—Eem as Supergroup of the Year, thanks to the combined talents of Earl Ninsom, Matt Vicedomini and Eric Nelson; and Gado Gado as our Newcomer of the Year.
Portland chefs also dominated the Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific category, filling four of the six slots. Honorees include:
New geographical guidelines went into effect for the 2020 awards, including Best Chef: California and Best Chef: Texas. That means those helming kitchens in Oregon are up against their counterparts in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington.
The nominations were scheduled to be announced March 25 in Philadelphia, but at that point the coronavirus pandemic was rapidly spreading across the country, and organizers made the call to postpone.
Restaurant and chef winners will be announced during a virtual ceremony on Friday, Sept. 25, via the James Beard Foundation's Twitter feed. The organization has also redirected its focus to distributing more than $4 million to locally owned restaurants across the nation from its Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund.