Top Toques: 2018 James Beard Chef and Restaurant Winners Announced

Want to know where to eat and drink on your next trip? Check out these award-winning chefs and restaurants in the United States.

The 2018 James Beard Foundation awards Outstanding Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of NYC's Prune.

Photo by: Melanie Dunea

Melanie Dunea

The 2018 James Beard Foundation awards Outstanding Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of NYC's Prune.

It's the Academy Awards of the restaurant world. Each year the James Beard Foundation (named for that celebrated teacher and cookbook author) awards its top honors to chefs and restaurants across the country.

What does this mean to you? That you need to make a reservation (stat!) at one of the award-winning restaurants if you are planning a trip to one of these cities.

And if you're a serious foodie, start plotting out how you can travel to Seattle to try Best New Restaurant winner JuneBaby or to NYC to sample for the first time, or yet again, Outstanding Chef winner Gabrielle Hamilton's much-heralded Prune.

Andrew Zimmern with Rodney Scott, James Beard winner and owner of Rodney Scott's BBQ.

Andrew Zimmern with Rodney Scott, James Beard winner and owner of Rodney Scott's BBQ.

A few things we gleaned from this year's winners? First, Southern food is still holding sway across the country. This year's Best New Restaurant JuneBaby celebrates innovative Southern cuisine in the state that also brought you grunge and Starbucks. And a top winner for Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef (Dolester Miles), Birmingham, Alabama's Highlands Bar & Grill proves it's still got it. Chef Frank Stitt's early interest in bringing humble Southern ingredients to table inspired by his own Cullman, Alabama childhood put his restaurant on the cutting edge of the now nationally-prominent Southern food trend. We also couldn't help but notice the shout-out to a cuisine that may have been maligned by the food establishment of the past (Scott is only the second pitmaster to win a James Beard award), in the Best Chef: Southeast winner Rodney Scott, who serves up classic whole hog at Rodney Scott's BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina. Scott is also the first African-American chef to win in the Best Chef Southeast category.

Another welcome trend: greater attention being paid to female chefs, who have often been overshadowed in the male-dominated restaurant industry. Long-celebrated Prune chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton won the award for Outstanding Chef but there were also plenty of other talented women in the mix. Dominique Crenn (featured in a fascinating episode of Netflix's "Chef's Table") won for Best Chef: West for her work at the eponymous Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Missy Robbins is Best Chef: New York City (Lilia), Best Chef: Northeast is Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang, Boston), Best Chef: South went to Nina Compton (Compere Lapin) and Camille Cogswell was awarded Rising Star Chef of the Year for Zahav in Philadelphia, which celebrates the increasing prominence of Israeli cuisine in American restaurants.

Travel Channel is proud to congratulate all the winners and our team looks forward to sampling their work in the year ahead.

Read on for the complete list of this year's James Beard award-winners.

Outstanding Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton, Prune, NYC

Outstanding Restaurant

Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL

Outstanding Restaurateur

Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group (Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern and others), Los Angeles

Outstanding Service

Zuni Café, San Francisco

Best New Restaurant

JuneBaby, Seattle

The bar at Cure, New Orleans

The bar at Cure, New Orleans

Cure is one of New Orleans's rising stars in the craft cocktail and cuisine scene and has revitalized the Uptown neighborhood around Freret Street. It is also a 2018 James Beard winner for Outstanding Bar Program.

Photo by: Kevin O'Mara, curenola.com

Kevin O'Mara, curenola.com

Cure is one of New Orleans's rising stars in the craft cocktail and cuisine scene and has revitalized the Uptown neighborhood around Freret Street. It is also a 2018 James Beard winner for Outstanding Bar Program.

Outstanding Bar Program

Cure, New Orleans

FIG

FIG

FIG takes “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” to an all-new level, using local ingredients at their peak and preparing them minimally to capture the flavor of the season.

Photo by: Squire Fox

Squire Fox

FIG takes “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” to an all-new level, using local ingredients at their peak and preparing them minimally to capture the flavor of the season.

Outstanding Wine Program

FIG, Charleston, SC

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional

Miljenko Grgich (Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA)

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL

Outstanding Baker

Belinda Long and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Camille Cogswell, Zahav, Philadelphia

One of the conceptual dishes offered at San Francisco's In Situ restaurant, located inside the SFMOCA museum and awarded a James Beard honor in 2018 Best Restaurant Design.

Photo by: Eric Wolfinger

Eric Wolfinger

One of the conceptual dishes offered at San Francisco's In Situ restaurant, located inside the SFMOCA museum and awarded a James Beard honor in 2018 Best Restaurant Design.

Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and over)

Firms: Aidlin Darling Design with a l m project

Designers: Joshua Aidlin, David Darling, Adam Rouse and Andrea Lenardin Madden

Project: In Situ, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and under)

Firm: The MP Shift

Designers: Amy Morris, Anna Polonsky and Julie Nerenberg

Project: De Maria, NYC

Design Icon

The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Missouri

Best Chef: New York City

Missy Robbins (Lilia)

Minnesota Restaurant With Authentic Local Charm

Minnesota Restaurant With Authentic Local Charm

Locally made objects — found and borrowed — tie the entire Spoon and Stable experience together with true Minnesotan collaboration. Stories from the chef’s experiences all over the world were brought into the space with local artists, friends and connections as a celebration of the chef’s Minnesota hometown. The space is filled with authentic stories made to share around the table in a true chef’s kitchen.

Photo by: Travis Anderson

Travis Anderson

Locally made objects — found and borrowed — tie the entire Spoon and Stable experience together with true Minnesotan collaboration. Stories from the chef’s experiences all over the world were brought into the space with local artists, friends and connections as a celebration of the chef’s Minnesota hometown. The space is filled with authentic stories made to share around the table in a true chef’s kitchen.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Gavin Kaysen (Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis)

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco)

Lattes From Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver, CO

Lattes From Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver, CO

Lattes are from Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver, Colorado.

Photo by: McCall Burau

McCall Burau

Lattes are from Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver, Colorado.

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Alex Seidel (Mercantile Dining & Provision, Denver)

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Edouardo Jordan (Salare, Seattle)

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)

Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang, Boston)

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice, Chicago)

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, Puerto Rico)

Nina Compton (Compere Lapin, New Orleans)

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Rodney Scott (Rodney Scott's BBQ, Charleston, SC)

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

Jeremiah Langhorne (The Dabney, Washington D.C.)

Keep Reading

Next Up

Steak Paradise: 6 Best Beef-Centric Restaurants

With so many top-notch steakhouses across the United States, there is no wonder why Americans are hooked on red meat.

5 Top Places to Eat Like a Local in Puerto Vallarta

These places will have you saying "Muy Bien" after every bite.

Top Hearty Restaurants

Before your next outing with the guys, check out these restaurants.

10 NYC Restaurants You Have to Try

A Travel Channel editor picks her high-end to affordable favorites in New York City right now.

11 Knoxville Restaurants You Can't Miss

From OliBea to Knox Mason, here’s where to eat and drink in Knoxville.

Top Pet-Friendly Restaurants in Palm Springs

Try these pet-friendly restaurants in Palm Springs, CA.

The Top 5 Places to Eat Poke in Hawaii

What better way to eat your favorite seafood than deliciously raw in a traditional poke bowl?

Nashville's Top 5 Restaurants

See GAC's picks for best restaurants in Nashville.

Cape Cod's Best Restaurants

Foodies will find plenty to love about Cape Cod.

Big-City Chefs' Favorite Late-Night Restaurants

Find out where top chefs go after hours.