James Beard Foundation Announces 2024 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

Find out which area restaurants and chefs are in the running.
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Ladder 4 Wine Bar, a semifinalist for the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award, is housed in a former firehouse that gives the wine bar its name. // Photograph by Hayden Stinebaugh

The James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and supporting the people behind America’s food industry, have released the names of the semifinalists in this year’s Restaurant and Chef Awards.

Here’s a closer look at the Detroit and suburban chefs and restaurants that made the cut.

Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere of Baobab Fare in Detroit – Outstanding Restaurateur

Hamissi Mamba and his wife Nadia Nijimbere came to America as refugees and made Detroit their home, opening their restaurant, Baobab Fare, in 2021. The New Center spot serves authentic East African dishes such as Intore (eggplant stew) and Samaki (flash-fried fish), along with desserts, coffees, teas, and more. 6568 Woodward Ave., Detroit; baobabfare.com.

Selden Standard, Detroit – Outstanding restaurant

Located at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Selden, just south of Wayne State’s campus, sits Selden Standard. The menu at this “rustic and casual” spot offers new American small plates created by partner and executive chef Andy Hollyday including chop salad, beef tartare, and sweet potato agnolotti. 3921 2nd Ave., Detroit; seldenstandard.com.

Rocky Coronado, Nepantla Café and Food Trailer, Detroit – Emerging Chef

Nepantla café opened in December of 2023 with owner Rocky Coronado at the helm. This emerging chef puts a vegan twist on Mexican food and serves tacos, nachos, soups, salads, and more made with fresh organic ingredients provided by indigenous farmers in Michigan, Texas, and Mexico. 5410 W. Vernor Highway, Detroit; nepantladetroit.com.

Alpino, Detroit – Best New Restaurant

This Alpine Mountains-inspired eatery was named best new restaurant of 2023 by both Eater and The Detroit News. It opened last year in Corktown and features a wide variety of menu items like Gurkensalat (Perisian cucumber, pickled shallot, créme fraiche, dill, and marigold) and Flammekueche (rye dough, mustard créme, fontina dop, lardon, and picked red cabbage). 1426 Bagley St., Detroit; alpinodetroit.com.

Shatila Bakery, Dearborn – Outstanding Bakery

Founded in 1979, Shatila Bakery is on a mission to “bake and deliver to you the highest quality, authentic Meditterranean pastries.” In 2018, The Wall Street Journal named them the bakery with America’s best baklava, but they also offer pies, ice cream, baklawa, kanafeh, custom cakes and more. 14300 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn; shop.shatila.com.

AlTayeb Restaurant, Dearborn – Outstanding Hospitality

Named after the Arabic word meaning delicious, this Dearborn spot is known for its Lebanese eats including falafel, several fül and hummus options, fetteh tahini and fetteh laban, sujuk (Labanese hot sausage), beef tongue, eggs with sujuk, eggs with makanek, and more. 15010 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn; facebook.com/altayebofdearborn.

Outstanding Wine

Two area spots were named semifinalists in this category: Folk in Detroit and Spencer in Ann Arbor.

Folk

The locally-sourced wine shop, Folk calls itself an “Aussie style café in a former bodega” and is known for its rotating lunch and brunch menus that are inspired by the seasons; 1701 Trumbull, Detroit; folkdetroit.com.

Spencer

Spencer over in downtown Tree Town offers seasonal locavore fare served to communal tables along with a curated wine list, cheese list, and craft beers. 113 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; spencerannarbor.com.

Best Chef: Great Lakes

This category of the James Beard Awards includes chefs from Illinois, Indian, Michigan, and Ohio. Of the 20 semifinalists in this category, five of them are from Michigan. Those chefs include:

Doug Hewitt, Freya, Detroit

As executive chef, Doug Hewitt is the mastermind behind the prix fixe menu at the modern American fine dining restaurant, Freya. Options include grilled halloumi, Michigan Brussels, grilled octopus, French onion dumpling, and autumn dauphinois (honeycrisp squash), among others. 2929 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit; freyadetroit.com.

Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim, Ann Arbor

“Really great Korean food” is the name of the game at Ji Hye Kim’s restaurant, Miss Kim. Open for indoor dining, patio, or takeout, enjoy a menu of traditional dishes like street-style tteokbokki, deonjang stew, smoked tofu bahn Mi, and duck bibimbop. Plus, dessert. 415 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; misskimannarbor.com.

Dan Klenotic, Bellflower, Ypsilanti

Chef Dan Klenotic is at the helm of this neighborhood restaurant, which is located in the building that was once home to the Michigan Bell Telephone Company. Thanks to community and collaboration, you can order off of their dinner menu or from the sandwich counter. 209 Pearl St., suite 202, Ypsilanti; bellflowerypsi.com.

Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson

You’ll find a little bit of comfort food grandma used to make alongside new and inventive dishes by chef and owner Hajime Sato. Pulling inspiration from Japanese delicacies, the menu includes seafood dishes made as sustainably as possible — including sushi. 449 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson; sozairestaurant.com.

John Yelinek, Ladder 4 Wine Bar, Detroit

A wine bar inside a firehouse. That’s what you’ll find at this Detroit spot, which features a menu by chef John Yelinek, who has also worked in other top area kitchens like Roast. The menu at Ladder 4 Wine Bar is locally sourced and features lighter fare such as salads and croquettes, along with larger plates like fried chicken and steak. 3396 Vinewood St., Detroit; ladder4winebar.com.

For the full list of the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists, visit jamesbeard.org.