PORTLAND, Ore. — The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2023 James Beard Awards in various categories on Wednesday. With many finalists brewing all across the country, several Oregon restaurants and chefs made the list.
The foundation will be announcing the winners at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in June.
Three chefs from Oregon were finalists in the "Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific" category. Two of the chefs are Portland-based while another chef is based in Ashland, Oregon.
Chef Joshua Dorcak is the head chef and co-owner NAMA and know for his restaurant of MÄS, known for its "tasting menu" and focuses on Cascadian cuisine. The chef has gone from a pop-up restaurant in the basement of an Ashland bakery to a nationally recognized chef. Dorcak is the only chef from Southern Oregon to be a finalist.
KGW had a chance to speak with Dorcak who was humbly excited to be recognized by the foundation.
"It's surreal, especially being from Southern Oregon where we don't have a lot of the food media that Portland has. I never really thought that this would be a possibility."
Chef Vince Nguyen is the owner and founder of Portland-based restaurant Berlu, known for utilizing a contemporary approach to cooking focused on explorations of Vietnamese cuisine. Nguyen, a California-native, was also recognized by the foundation in the "Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific" category.
The official Berlu Instagram page reacted to the exciting news in a post stating, "We’re incredibly humbled by this recognition and for the support over the years. It’s an honor to represent Portland and the Vietnamese community as a @beardfoundation finalist. Many thanks to the JBF and past/current staff!!!".
Chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly is the co-owner of Gado Gado, known for the melting pot flavors that stem from the celebration of Chef Thomas' Chinese and Indonesian heritage. He also was a finalist.
The owner of the Portland-based restaurant took to an Instagram post on the restaurant's official page and expressed excitement for the recognition.
"WOAH…We are beyond thrilled to see the JBF announcement today. And honestly we could not be more proud, honored and just straight up excited to be nominated among the other finalists for BEST CHEF NW & PACIFIC. OUR ENTIRE WILDLY TALENTED TEAM at Gado make this happen. Our family at @omashideaway make this happen. Our loyal and strong community, industry and guests make this happen. We cannot wait to go back to Chicago to be a part of and celebrate this achievement. Thank you to JBF for this recognition - we love what we do and love the city we do it in. THANK YOU ❤️ Tom, Mariah, and Toby".
Nguyen and Dorcak are both first-time nominees.
Portland's new popular restaurant, Kann, known for its iconic Haitian dishes and spices while also honoring the seasons and local ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Kann was the only restaurant from Oregon to be a finalist in the "Best New Restaurant" category.
Award-winning author, "Top Chef" contestant and judge chef Gregory Gourdet is the owner and heartbeat behind Kann.
The Haitian-inspired restaurant previously made the New York Times' list of 2022's top 50 restaurants in the country in September, and due to popular demand, is also the toughest reservation in town.
In the "Leadership Awards" category "The Burgerville Workers Union" made the finalists list. The Vancouver, Washington based food chain announced back in December 2021 that they had officially ratified the first fast-food union contract in the U.S.
On the foundation site they stated that their "Leadership Awards' go to candidates who are committed to “raise awareness of these timely issues by celebrating the visionaries responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more equitable, and sustainable food system.”