Niven Patel figures in Outstanding Restaurateur category; Srijith Gopinathan in Best Chef category from California
Seven Indian American chefs figure among the semifinalists of the James Beard Foundationâ€™s 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards across 23 categories ranging from fine-dining establishments to casual gems, and emerging talents to established masters.
Nominees will be announced on March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the foundation announced Jan 25.
â€œCongratulations to all our 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists! This is always an exhilarating moment as we kick off the Awards cycle and recognize the outstanding achievements of individuals and teams across the country,â€ said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation.
The James Beard Awards, considered to be among Americaâ€™s most prestigious honors, recognize exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive, the foundation stated.
Indian American chef Niven Patel and his partner Mohamed Ali Alkassar, who run three restaurants in Miami, Florida â€” Ghee Indian Kitchen, Orno, and Mamey â€” figure in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Srijith Gopinathan of Ettan in Palo Alto figures in the Best Chef category from California.
Others nominated include Cindhura Reddy of Spuntino in Denver, Colorado (Best Chef: Mountain); Sahar Siddiqi of Chai Pani in Decatur, Georgia and Preeti Waas of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium in Raleigh, North Carolina (Best Chef: Southeast); Pushkar Marathe of Stage in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (Best Chef: South); and Kiran Verma of Kiranâ€™s in Houston, Texas (Best Chef: Texas).
The New York Times describes Niven Patel, 36 as, â€œone of Miamiâ€™s best-known and promising young chefs.â€ In May, the Food & Wine magazine anointed him as one of the countryâ€™s 10 Best New Chefs.
Read: Three Indian Americans nominated for 2018 James Beard AwardÂ (March 15, 2018)
After culinary school, he worked with chef Dean Max in Fort Lauderdale. He then â€œtook a six-month sabbatical to travel around Italy seeking inspiration and picking up further culinary skills along the way,â€ according to Patelâ€™s profile in Heritage Miami. â€œIt was on that trip his strong identity with farm-to-table cooking was forged,â€ the magazine added.
Srijith Gopinathan, chef and co-owner of Ettan, is known as the innovator of the Cal-Indian culinary genre. He helmed the kitchen at Taj Campton Place in San Francisco since 2008 where he has continually earned two Michelin stars and 3.5 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle.
A native of Kerala, he received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and â€œvia â€˜stagingâ€™ at the Michelin two-star Le Manoir aux Quatâ€™Saisons in England, according to his profile on Ettanâ€™s website.
Cindhura Reddy fell in love with food while cooking alongside her Indian-born parents. A Cleveland native, she studied government and pre-law at Oberlin and was on the path to becoming a lawyer when her classmate and future husband, Elliot Strathmann, convinced her to follow her passion.
After graduating, the couple moved to Philadelphia, where she attended culinary school and joined the opening team of Mike Solomonovâ€™s Zahav. She and Strathmann married in 2011, â€œand the couple went on an epic eating adventure through Southeast Asia and Europe,â€ according to her profile on the restaurant website.
Sahar Siddiqi became the Chef de Cuisine at Chai Pani in Decatur, Georgia in 2021. Before serving in that role, she was the restaurantâ€™s assistant kitchen manager. A first-generation Pakistani American, she spent her formative years in suburban New York.
â€œShe was initially drawn to kitchens by passion, but the community and connection she found kept her on a culinary career path â€“ in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta,â€ according to a Facebook post by Chai Paani.
Preeti Waas opened Cheeni Indian Food Emporium in Raleigh in April 2022. â€œIâ€™m thrilled that my team and I have a place that once seemed beyond imagination for a home cook,â€ Waas told INDY Week.
â€œEspecially in an area that is teeming with culinary talent.â€ According to Axios, â€œthe seasoned restaurateurâ€™s whimsical concept quickly soared in popularity, thanks to its unique food offerings, colorful bazaar and vibrant interior.â€
The restaurant offers great Indian dishes as well as coffee, a retail selection of Indian artisans and a teaching kitchen where Waas and other chefs hold classes.
Nagpur-born Pushkar Marathe â€œbegan his culinary training in Switzerland before embarking on a decades-long exploration of international cuisine,â€ according to his profile on Ella Curry Kitchen
In addition to cooking at restaurants led by his mentor Dean Max, he has held cooking positions at restaurants in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands, the US, and the Middle East.
In 2020, Marathe and partner Andy Dugard, opened Stage Kitchen & Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, â€œbringing all of Maratheâ€™s culinary experiences and explorations together in a vital cuisine born of interwoven traditions.â€
Kiran Verma, considered the â€œgodmother of Indian fine dining,â€ has created world-class Indian cuisine at her eponymous restaurant,â€ her website says.
A self-taught chef who has â€œbeen guided by her Indian upbringing and a love of fine cuisine, she defines her cuisine as a combination of cultures, philosophies and cooking techniques,â€ it says.
The restaurant is known for serving up Indian hospitality, with French sophistication and American informality. Kiranâ€™s award-winning wine list of over 300 labels, along with monthly wine dinners, complements the delicate flavors of the food.