Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

2024 James Beard Award Nominations Highlight DC Restaurants

6 DC chefs and restaurants, including Kevin Tien and Susan Bae of Moon Rabbit, received nominations for the James Beard Awards, a national honor highlighting excellence in the food industry. || Courtesey of Moon Rabbit

Six Washington, D.C. restaurateurs and chefs received nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s annual Restaurant and Chef Awards, the food industry’s highest awards, at an April 3 ceremony. 

The awards, active since 1990, honor individuals’ and businesses’ skills, accomplishments and commitment to building a better society. The foundation nominated this year’s six nominees in categories including Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Chef and Emerging Chef

Hollis Wells Silverman, a nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur, is an owner and founder of Eastern Point Collective, which runs the Capitol Hill restaurants La Collina, The Wells, The Duck & the Peach, and Méli Mezze & Wine in Adams Morgan. 

Silverman said the nomination is an honor for her professional development, team and career.

“This James Beard award is a pretty amazing moment, to be recognized amongst peers,” Silverman told The Hoya. “I think the award will be an award for the team that has worked so hard to help make it happen.”

Susan Bae, a pastry chef at Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit and a nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, said her nomination has given her a key chance to serve as an example for other female pastry chefs. 

“I think being a woman especially, and a woman of color, it’s a great opportunity to set an example,” Bae told The Hoya. “There will be setbacks and there will be hardships and all that, but to be the face of ‘Oh, look at what can be accomplished with determination, with work. I think it’s inspiring to other women and other women of color.”

6 DC chefs and restaurants, including Hollis Silverman of Eastern Point Collective, received nominations for the James Beard Awards, a national honor highlighting excellence in the food industry. || Courtesy of Hollis Silverman

Kevin Tien, a nominee for the regional Best Chef award for the Mid-Atlantic region and Moon Rabbit’s head chef, said the foundation has worked to highlight underrepresented minority groups as restaurant owners. 

“I really appreciate everything James Beard has been doing to recognize small businesses, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses,” Tien told The Hoya. “There’s a lot of organizations that aren’t as transparent or like to do that.” 

Tien said over the past years, the District’s restaurant scene has shifted away from its stereotype of solely being the home of American cuisine for government workers.

“For a long time when people talked about food cities, they were talking about New York, Chicago and San Francisco,” Tien said. “Back in the day, steak and potatoes and French fine dining were the thing. But if you look at the food scene now, we have one of the most diverse food scenes of anywhere else in the country.”

Wells Silverman said D.C.’s restaurant culture has become more innovative and international in recent years. 

“I think there’s a typical American bar scene that D.C. has come out of over the past 20-some-odd years, ” Wells Silverman said. “I think people are really focusing more on bringing different types of ingredients and celebrating a lot of different foods and cultures and people.”

Asya Eksioglu (SFS ’25), director of outreach for Georgetown’s Eating Society (GUES), a club dedicated to cultural exposure through food, said the District’s bustling food scene may surprise some. 

“D.C. is one of those cities where I think people are still surprised when they learn that there’s a huge food scene,” Eksioglu wrote to The Hoya. 

Eksioglu said the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the city’s food culture, leading many locals in the food industry to expand on their professional aspirations — such as chefs opening new businesses.

This phenomenon has definitely translated into the restaurant scene, with so many new and noteworthy restaurants opening in the DMV area,” Eksioglu wrote.

Beyond Tien, Silverman and Bae, the foundation also nominated Michael Rafidi, chef at the Middle Eastern restaurant Albi, for Outstanding Chef; Sushi Chef Masako Morishita from Japanese eatery Perry’s for Emerging Chef; and Adams Morgan restaurant Tail Up Goat for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages. The 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony will take place June 10 in Chicago

Silverman said the James Beard Awards provide an opportunity to uplift rising chefs and others in the food industry. 

“My hope is that it creates more awareness of what we’re trying to do as people in the industry and it really helps the careers of those that work on the team and for their dreams to come true,” Silverman said.

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