Missy Robbins and Rachel Yang are nominated for James Beard Awards

ICE Alumni Among 2020 James Beard Award Finalists

On Monday, the foundation took to a livestream on Twitter to announce nominees in nearly 60 categories for the 2020 awards.

One bright light for the ICE community in this wild time for hospitality is the nomination of two ICE alumni for 2020 James Beard Awards. While the nominations were just made, the media awards will be announced via press release on May 27, and the restaurant and chef awards will be announced on Sept. 25 through a livestream on the James Beard Foundation’s twitter feed, similar to the nominations.

Rachel Yang (Culinary, ‘01) was nominated for Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific. She co-owns three restaurants in Seattle and one in Portland with her husband, who is also a chef, Seif Chirchi. The husband-and-wife team opened Joule in Seattle in 2007, serving refined Korean fare, which is available for takeout Wednesday to Sunday currently. The restaurant’s popularity launched them into culinary fame, from a spot on “Iron Chef” to recognition as semifinalists or finalists for the James Beard Awards every year since opening.

"Seif and I are incredibly humbled and honored to be nominated again," Rachel told ICE. "Even though we have been here before, it feels strangely different this time. The lights in the restaurants have been turned off and many cooks have put their knives away. There's no laughter in the dining room nor the hustle and bustle in the prep area. We realized all of a sudden that restaurants were the hearts and souls of the community. But we are still here. We are still cooking and feeding people. Being recognized that we are still the chefs for people gives us incredible strength and hope."

Missy Robbins (Culinary, ‘95) was nominated for Outstanding Chef. No stranger to these nominations, Missy won Best Chef: New York City in 2018. That year, the co-owner of Lilia and Misi, both in Williamsburg with thoughtful, critically acclaimed Italian cuisine, told ICE in 2018 that she doesn’t cook for a critic or to prove something.

“How about just cooking food and seeing how people react to it? For me, there was some risk involved in that. [My] culinary voice grew out of that desire to cook great food for people and put all those outside voices to rest and not worry,” she said. “In doing that, I’ve become a better cook, a better leader and a better teacher because I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just cooking what I want to cook, and I hoped to God that people were going to like it.”

Well, they’ve certainly liked it.

The Beard Foundation acknowledged that it’s a challenging time in the restaurant community. Many restaurants have had to either close entirely or swiftly pivot business models to delivery or no-contact pickup, losing staff with no sure end to the situation at hand. The foundation is turning its attention away from awards activities and focusing on the JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund (one of many funds helping restaurants stay afloat right now).

“Some of the restaurants announced today are temporarily closed, some are operating in another form, such as takeout or meal relief efforts, whilst others have already announced that they will permanently close,” said JBF CEO Clare Reichenbach. “Today we acknowledge the accomplishments of all the people behind these restaurants and the need for everyone to fight for this industry that employs 16 million people and is a vital part of American culture.”

Congratulations to ICE alumni among the semifinalists announced in February: Ann Redding (Culinary, '02), co-chef/owner of Uncle Boons, who was up for Best Chef: New York State, and Charlie Brooks (Culinary, '09), chef de cuisine at Denver's Sunday Vinyl, which was recognized among Best New Restaurants.

Read more about award-winning ICE alumni.

Add new comment