Chef Michael Rafidi Wins Back-to-Back Top Honor at James Beard Awards in D.C.

Washington, D.C. is celebrating two culinary victories at the recent James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. Michael Rafidi, a Palestinian American chef, was awarded the title of outstanding chef for his Michelin-starred Levantine restaurant Albi, known for its mouth-watering pita bread, baba ganoush, and steamed manti. Rafidi, who dedicated the award to the Palestinian people, also owns Yellow, a cafe and restaurant in Georgetown, with plans to open a Union Market location later this year.

In addition to Rafidi’s win, Masako Morishita of Perry’s, a popular Japanese fusion restaurant in Adams Morgan, received the award for best emerging chef. Morishita, originally from Kobe, became the first Japanese woman to hold this title at Perry’s. She expressed her joy at receiving the prestigious award, highlighting the creativity in her cooking and the importance of uplifting Japanese comfort food.

Harley Peet, representing the Mid-Atlantic region, took home the award for best chef for his restaurant Bas Rouge in Easton, Md., serving up delectable international fusion flavors. Peet expressed his gratitude for the honor, emphasizing the significance of bringing recognition to the Eastern Shore and its culinary scene.

Washington, D.C.-area restaurants had a strong showing at the Beard Awards this year, with additional honors going to The World Central Kitchen Cookbook by José Andrés, Susan Bae and Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit, Clavel Mezcaleria, Tail Up Goat, and Hollis Wells Silverman of Eastern Point Collective. These awards recognize excellence in the culinary world, celebrating outstanding chefs, restaurants, and food media.

The Beard Awards ceremony, held at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, stands as one of the highest honors in the culinary industry. It recognizes exceptional talent and innovation in the kitchen, as well as excellence in restaurant operations. The event also pays tribute to culinary literature, cookbooks, and food journalism, highlighting the diverse and dynamic world of food culture.