It’s a shutout for Atlanta restaurants at the 2024 James Beard Awards

Chefs Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang, owners of Talat Market in Summerhill. (Photo by Bailey Garrot)

The James Beard Foundation presented its annual chef and restaurant awards on Monday, June 10 in Chicago. The prestigious culinary awards are known as the “Oscars of the gastronomic world.”

Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter of Summerhill Thai Restaurant Talat Market were the only representatives from Atlanta and Georgia this year. They were nominated for Best Chef: Southeast. However, the James Beard Award went to Paul Smith of 1010 Bridge of Charleston, West Virginia.

It was an overall light year for Atlanta and Georgia, with only seven restaurants recognized as semifinalists in January. Most of these restaurants joined Talat Market in the Best Chef: Southeast category. Talat Market was the only restaurant to become a finalist for a James Beard Award.

Talat Market began as a Thai food pop-up in 2017 operating out of Gato (now Gigi’s Italian Kitchen) in Candler Park, following in the footsteps of Little Bear chef Jarrett Stieber and his pop-up, Eat Me Speak Me.

Savang was named Eater’s 2017 Chef of the Year and a 2018 James Beard Rising Star Chef semifinalist. He grew up in the restaurant industry, helping out at his family’s restaurant, Danthai, in Lawrenceville. Savang then worked at Hugh Acheson’s The National and Five & Ten in Athens and Empire State South in Atlanta. It was while Savang and Lassiter were working together at Kimball House in Decatur that they conceived the idea for Talat Market.

In 2020, Lassiter and Savang opened Talat Market as a restaurant in a former corner store on Ormond Street in Summerhill. Here, chefs serve traditional Thai and Thai-influenced dishes using local and seasonal ingredients, produce and proteins. The menu offers everything from Northern Thai beef tartare to green curry with catfish, turnips and broccoli, to flounder with red chili jam and Thai basil and the popular salad of crispy rice from the restaurant.

Thai restaurant Talat Market opened in Summerhill in 2020. (Provided by Talat Market)

Chef Terry Koval of The Deer and the Dove won Best Chef: Southeast in 2023. Previous winners in the Atlanta and Georgia categories include Mashama Bailey of The Gray in Savannah, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins and Anne Quatrano.

The James Beard Foundation held its Media Awards ceremony on Saturday, June 8, in Chicago, ahead of Monday’s Chef and Restaurant Awards. Atlanta food writer and AJC Black Culture Editor Mike Jordan won the Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award for three articles published in Atlanta Magazine.

The Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award, named after the legendary LA Times food critic who died of pancreatic cancer in 2018, recognizes “the work of an individual who engages readers through enterprising food and dining coverage, and whose work demonstrates versatility in form, such as reviews, profiles, cooking, quick hits and hard news.

“A big thank you to the James Beard Foundation, not only for this award, but for increasingly being a place and community for Black food writers. There need to be more writers on black cuisine. We need more Black food editors and more Black food publications,” Jordan said in his acceptance speech. “Shout-out to the greatest city in the world: Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not just my reward. Atlanta is the biggest underdog in the culinary scene.

Jordan was nominated in the same category in 2023. Brooke Jackson-Glidden, former editor-in-chief of Eater Portland, won the category medal last year.

While The Bitter Southerner did not win a medal in the general interest publications category for 2024, writer Farhan Mustafa received an award for his personal essay “Immigrant Spaghetti” published by the online and print magazine based in Atlanta.