‘Chai Pani’ named America’s best restaurant

Besides the Indian street food eatery, Chintan Pandya of Dhamaka, New York, was named Best Chef, New York State

‘Chai Pani’, or refreshments serving affordable Indian street food in North Carolina, has been named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on Monday.

The menu at the Asheville eatery, whose name literally means tea and water, features Indian snacks called “chaat” that are known for a mix of spicy, sweet and tangy flavors.

Chintan Pandya of Dhamaka, New York, was named Best Chef: New York State. Literally ‘Explosive,’ Dhamaka describes itself as a new “Unapologetic Indian” restaurant serving provincial Indian cuisine.

Read: NY based Vikas Khanna listed among top 10 global chefs (June 3, 2022)

It was the first time the honors were awarded in two years, after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 so the foundation could remove systemic bias and as lockdowns to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus forced the temporary closure of many US restaurants.

Other winners included the Native American restaurant Owamni in Minneapolis, where the staff is 75% indigenous, as Best New Restaurant.

Outstanding Baker was Don Guerra at Barrio Bread in Tucson, Arizona, where he uses ancient grains that have seeds adapted to grow in the desert. Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, was named Outstanding Chef.

The Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony was hosted by Kwame Onwuachi, actor, chef, author, and executive producer at Food & Wine Magazine.

Presenters included Maneet Chauhan, chef, television personality, and judge on the Food Network’s Chopped; Ashley Christensen, chef, restaurateur, and author; Christian Clemenson, actor in HBO’s hit series Julia, Apollo 13, and The Big Lebowski.

“We are delighted to finally be back in Chicago celebrating the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards and bringing attention to our industry, that still needs support,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation.

“I am honored to celebrate the return of the Restaurant and Chef Awards after a two-year hiatus,” said Kwame Onwuachi, James Beard Award-winner and host of the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony.

“As we know, a James Beard Award can be transformative to a career or business, and as we move forward from the pandemic, this weekend was an important opportunity to lift up the independent restaurant community as a whole, doing amazing work across the country.”

Full list of winners:

Outstanding Restaurant: Chai Pani, Asheville, North Carolina

Outstanding Chef: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Georgia

Best New Restaurant: Owamni, Minneapolis

Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix

Emerging Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin, Texas

Outstanding Baker: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Arizona

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie in Detroit

Outstanding Wine Program: The Four Horsemen, New York

Outstanding Bar Program: Julep, Houston

Outstanding Hospitality: Cúrate, Asheville, North Carolina

Read: Chai Pani and a lot more: This Indian restaurant has been voted the best in America (June 14, 2022)

Best Chefs

Best Chef: California, Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Best Chef: Southwest, Fernando Olea, Sazón, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Chef: Midwest, Dave Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee

Best Chef: Mountain, Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora, Colorado

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific, Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu

Best Chef: Texas, Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin, Texas

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia

Best Chef: New York State, Chintan Pandya, Dhamaka, New York

Best Chef: South, Adam Evans, Automatic Seafood and Oysters, Birmingham, Alabama

Best Chef: Southeast, Ricky Moore, SALTBOX Seafood Joint, Durham, North Carolina

Best Chef: Northeast,Nisachon Morgan, Saap, Randolph, Vermont

Best Chef: Great Lakes, Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago

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