Vince Nguyen of Berlu

Image: Karen Brooks

After two years’ hiatus due to the pandemic, James Beard award season is back with a fresh set of semifinalists in the Chef and Restaurant category—and the list includes several Portland restaurants and restaurateurs. Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom of Eem, Hat Yai, Langbaan, Paa Dee, and Lazy Susan is in the running for the Outstanding Restaurateur award; we at PoMo were clearly ahead of the trend, naming Ninsom our chef of the year in 2019. Meanwhile, Thuy Pham, vegan chef of Mama Dút Foods (and one of PoMo’s 2021 Best Restaurants) is a semifinalist for the Emerging Chef award. 

Coquine, which Karen Brooks has been frequenting for its brunch, pastries, French fries, and market, is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Hospitality Category. República, PoMo’s 2021 Restaurant of the Year, is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. 

And three Portland chefs are in the running for Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific. Vince Nguyen of Berlu has won over the hearts of many Portlanders with his Vietnamese tasting menu dinners and bakery; Carlo Lamagna, named one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs 2021, is beloved for his skewers and sisig, and for offering Magna as a pop-up space for other chefs. Thomas Pisha-Duffly of the ever-popular Gado Gado and Oma’s Hideaway is also in contention for the award. Notably, our neighbor Seattle has seven chefs competing for the award. Plus, several Portland chefs nominated in previous years were not nominated this year, including Gregory Gourdet, who's in the process of opening Kann, and Peter Cho, whose Han Oak was closed during 2021.

The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Chicago on June 13.

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