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Here Are the 2023 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists for D.C.

Causa, Allegory, and Mélange chef Elias Taddesse make the preliminary cut

Closeup on a silver medal featuring the face of James Beard. Around the edge of the medal, text reads “James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence.” James Beard Foundation
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The James Beard Foundation today announced its semifinalist nominees for its 2023 awards, officially kicking off restaurant awards season across the country.

Oyster Oyster’s Rob Rubba gets another shot at winning a James Beard Award, this time for outstanding chef (his vegetable tasting pad in Shaw was a 2022 finalist for best new restaurant). The sole local semifinalist for outstanding restaurateur goes to Knead Hospitality + Design, the fast-growing D.C. firm behind Gatsby, Mi Vida, and others.

Newer categories continue to address the findings of an extensive 2021 audit to confront the longstanding biases baked into the awards process. Ethiopian chef Elias Taddesse (Mélange) is up for emerging chef of the year (unlike previous years’ rising star chef award, the nominees were not subjected to an age restriction). Shaw’s Peruvian prix-fixe showpiece Causa, one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants of the year, is a James Beard Award semifinalist for the same title along with Johnny Spero’s Bar Spero in D.C.

The semifinalist list for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic includes representatives from Eater 38 spots L’Ardente, Albi, Bammy’s, Bresca, Oyamel, and Moon Rabbit. Rahman “Rock” Harper of Queen Mother’s Fried Chicken in Arlington is also nominated in the same category.

This list will be whittled down to finalists on Wednesday, March 29, with winners announced at a glitzy gala in Chicago on Monday, June 5. Here’s the full list of locals—17 semifinalists in all—looking to win big:

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Michael Reginbogin and Jason Berry, KNEAD Hospitality + Design (MI VIDA, Lil’ SUCCOTASH, and GATSBY), Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Chef

  • Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant

  • RIS, Washington, D.C.

Emerging Chef

  • Elias Taddesse, Mélange, Washington, D.C.

Best New Restaurant

  • Bar Spero, Washington, D.C.
  • Causa, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Kareem Queeman, Mr. Bake, Riverdale, Maryland

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

  • Flight Wine Bar, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Bar

  • Allegory, Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

  • David Deshaies, L’Ardente, Washington, D.C.
  • Rahman “Rock” Harper, Queen Mother’s Fried Chicken, Arlington, VA
  • Enrique Limardo, Seven Reasons, Washington, D.C.
  • Peter Prime, Bammy’s, Washington, D.C.
  • Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.
  • Ryan Ratino, Bresca, Washington, D.C.
  • Omar Rodriguez, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, D.C.
  • Kevin Tien, Moon Rabbit, Washington, D.C.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.