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Four Las Vegas Chefs Compete for James Beard Foundation Awards

Judges dined on and off-Strip to discover best local chefs

A gold medal
James Beard Foundation award
James Beard Foundation [Official Site]

No longer competing with the over-familiar California scene for the highly coveted Best Chef award, the James Beard Foundation has nominated four Las Vegas chefs as semi-finalists for the prestigious prize, ahead of the finalist award announcements on Wednesday, March 25. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Joining 20 fellow recipients across Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma in the southwest region, Spring Valley’s Other Mama is the oldest restaurant to be recognized, handing chef and restaurateur Dan Krohmer a first JBF nod for his Japanese-influenced dishes. Krohmer is also behind the more recent Japanese robata-style of Hatsumi and Mexican-inspired menu of La Monja, both at Fergusons Downtown.

Upscale Locale Italian Kitchen, the newest restaurant found worthy by the judges, has been open less than a year, helmed by chef Nicole Brisson, long a local favorite for her previous tenure at Carnevino and Eataly on the Strip.

Chef Alan Ji is nominated for his elevated Chinese dining at Mott 32 at the Palazzo, overseeing the menu since 2018, following a three-year stint as chef de cuisine at Wing Lei at Wynn Las Vegas.

And judges also headed downtown to discover chef James Trees and his seasonally inspired menu at Esther’s Kitchen on Casino Center Boulevard. Trees was chef tournant at Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace when it won the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant prize in 2004.

Other chefs and restaurants with Las Vegas ties that were nominated include Marc Vetri, who opened Vetri Cucina at the Palms, for Outstanding Chef, and Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ for Outstanding Restaurant. Choi has Best Friend at the Park MGM.

The James Beard Foundation reconfigured its regional categories in its annual Restaurant & Chef Awards, giving California its own regional category; moving Nevada into the Southwest category with Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma; and creating a new Northwest & Pacific category with Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington last September. Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming become part of the Mountain category; Texas gets its own regional category; New York City and the five boroughs, which have been a standalone category, join the rest of New York State; while the Northeast category remains the same minus New York, with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Other categories remain unchanged.

Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.

Sheridan Su Earns a James Beard Foundation Nomination [ELV]

Here Are the 2020 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists [ELV]

Esther’s Kitchen

1130 South Casino Center Boulevard, , NV 89104 (702) 570-7864 Visit Website


3225 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-789-4141 Visit Website

Locale Italian Kitchen

7995 Blue Diamond Road, , NV 89178 (702) 330-0404 Visit Website

Wynn Las Vegas

3131 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 770-7000 Visit Website

La Monja

1028 Fremont Street, , NV 89101 (702) 848-3530 Visit Website

Fergusons Downtown

1028 East Fremont Street, , NV 89101 Visit Website

Wing Lei

3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South, , NV 89109 (702) 770-3388 Visit Website

Mott 32

3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S. , Las Vegas, NV 89109

The Palazzo

3325 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 607-7777 Visit Website

Best Friend

3770 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 730-6770 Visit Website


1028 Fremont Street, , NV 89101 (702) 268-8939 Visit Website

Other Mama

3655 South Durango Drive, , NV 89147 (702) 463-8382 Visit Website

The Park

3782 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 Visit Website


10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, , CA 90067 (213) 310-8000 Visit Website