Ellen Yin, Jesse Ito, Cristina Martinez, and Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon are all finalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards.

In February, the James Beard Foundation named its semifinalists for the prestigious restaurant and chef awards, with 17 nods for food, restaurant, bar and beverage professionals in the Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware region.

That number has been whittled down, and four remain as finalists.

Yin, who operates High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen), is a finalist for outstanding restaurateur, her fourth nomination in the category since 2017. Chefs Ito (Royal Izakaya), Martinez (South Philly Barbacoa), and Suntaranon (Kalaya) are in the running for best chef Mid-Atlantic. This is Ito and Martinez’s fifth Beard nomination , and the first for Suntaranon, whose Kalaya was a nominee in the best new restaurant category in 2020.

Of the 17 Philadelphia-area semifinalists, Yin is the only nominee in a national category, which includes the emerging chef and best new restaurant awards. Corinne’s Place in Camden was named an America’s Classic by the foundation in February.

Celebrating the country’s top chefs and leading restaurants, this year’s Beard awards will honor chefs and the restaurant industry for work done in 2020 and 2021, when the awards were on hiatus due to the pandemic.

» READ MORE: Camden’s Corinne’s Place recognized by James Beard Awards as ‘America’s Classic’

The James Beard Foundation Awards season will culminate with the Media and Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremonies June 13 at the Lyric Opera Theater in Chicago.

The return of the awards comes two years after behind-the-scenes deliberations over nominees and eligibility rules resulted in the foundation auditing its practices, with a focus on equity and transparency.

In September, the foundation publicly shared its new efforts, including establishing an ethics committee to oversee allegations against nominees; improve scouting efforts to build a bigger candidate pool; and overhauling policies and procedures to remove systemic bias with the help of an outside social-justice agency partner.

Winning a Beard Award is a huge honor for restaurants, but even being nominated means that a chef or restaurant is a standout. For a list to Philly’s award-recognized establishments, check out our guide.


(Disclosure: Some current Inquirer staff members have served on or are part of the James Beard Awards voting body.)