Nina Compton and Cure were winners at the 2018 James Beard Awards in Chicago May 7. The James Beard Foundation's annual awards are the Oscars of the food world.
Nina Compton was named Best Chef: South. She was voted fan favorite for the season of Top Chef filmed in New Orleans, and together with husband Larry Miller runs the Warehouse District restaurant Compere Lapin (Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, 535 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-599-2119; www.comperelapin.com), which has garnered accolades since opening in 2015. The duo recently partnered with former Compere Lapin sous chef Levi Raines to open Bywater American Bistro (2900 Chartres St., 504-605-3827; www.bywateramericanbistro.com) earlier this year.
In recent years, New Orleans has dominated the Best Chef: South category, which last year went to chef Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint, and before that Justin Devillier (La Petite Grocery) and Alon Shaya (Saba). This year's nominees included New Orleans contenders Slade Rushing of Brennan's and Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus of Coquette.
Freret Street cocktail lounge Cure (4905 Freret St., 504-302-2357; www.curenola.com) won Outstanding Bar Program, which last year went to Arnaud's French 75. Cure was founded in 2009 by Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Matthew Kohnke and has been a finalist for the award for the past three years.
There were nine local finalists in all for the prestigious awards. Willa Jean chef Kelly Fields was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef, which went to Dolester Miles of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama. Bacchanal Wine was up for the Outstanding Wine Program, which went to Charleston's FIG. Other nominees included Upperline's JoAnn Clevenger for Outstanding Restaurateur, and Donald Link, who was nominated for Outstanding Chef.
Also honored were recipients of the James Beard Foundation's American Classics awards, which included the Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong (14207 Chef Menteur Highway, 504-254-0214; www.dpbakeshop.com). The foundation's list of Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America inducted Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin of Commander's Palace, Cafe Adelaide and SoBou.