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Inn at Little Washington’s Chef Wins the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award

Patrick O’Connell will be honored at the organization’s yearly gala in May

Inn at Little Washington chef Patrick O’Connell donning a signature apron modeled after his Dalmatian’s black-and-white coat. 
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The James Beard Foundation will present the Inn at Little Washington chef Patrick O’Connell with its annual lifetime achievement award, the organization announced today.

The self-taught chef and D.C. native founded the inn inside a converted garage in 1978. Sourcing ingredients from surrounding farms to formulate his regional American cuisine, he went on to make the little town of Washington, Virginia, a must-visit for restaurant obsessives in the city — and also the queen of England.

“I’m immensely grateful to everyone who helped me on the long and colorful journey to this point — especially to our guests for their loyal patronage through the years,” O’Connell says in a statement. “I’m living proof that you can hide out in a mountain village with a population of 133 and still be discovered and recognized by your peers. The power of good food should never be underestimated.”

Last year, the Inn at Little Washington became the only restaurant in Michelin’s D.C. guide to garner a three-star rating. O’Connell has also been a Beard favorite over the years, playing a part in five awards including Outstanding Chef (2001), Outstanding Restaurant (1993), and Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (1992).

Stunned by the lamb carpaccio with Caesar salad ice cream, among other things, Eater’s former roving critic wrote last year that the Inn at Little Washington is “an anomaly in America, a literal destination that remains relevant through its timelessness.”

O’Connell will be honored at the James Beard Awards Gala on May 6 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.