Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

3 Cincinnati restaurants named James Beard Award finalists

medal on a tux
Eliesa Johnson
Photographs of the 2019 James Beard Awards in Chicago, MN. All images by Eliesa Johnson and Melissa Hesse of The Restaurant Project® 2019

Three Cincinnati restaurants are among the finalists for the James Beard Foundation's 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards.

The local nominees are among an elite grouping of the country's best chefs and restaurants. They include two restaurants and a pastry chef. They are:

  • Mita's, nominated for Outstanding Restaurant
  • Nolia, nominated for Best New Restaurant
  • Elaine Uykimpang Bentz of Café Mochiko, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

"The James Beard Awards celebrate outstanding achievement and exceptional culinary talent, as well as all those doing incredible work on behalf of our communities and wider food system," said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation in a release. "This year's nominees, winners and honorees are inspiring exemplars of that. We congratulate all those recognized today and look forward to celebrating them at another exciting Awards Weekend in Chicago this June."
Winners will be announced June 5.

LISTEN: A Cincinnati food expert breaks down stereotypes about MSG

"It's very exciting and really nice to see so many other restuarnts are being noticed here in Cincinnati," Elaine Uykimpang Bentz told WVXU.

"So thrilled on making the Beard Foundation outstanding restaurant finals. We think our whole team is pretty outstanding as well," wrote Mita's on Facebook.

The team at Nolia thanked everyone who has helped make the restaurant's first year a success, including guests.

"We did it! We made it! James Beard finalist Best New Restaurant. We are speechless. We are thankful. We are ecstatic!"

Camp Washington Chili holds Cincinnati's only James Beard Award. It won in the America's Classics category in 2000.

Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel was a nominee (2000, 2001, 2006) and semifinalist (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013) multiple times.

LISTEN: Members of Cincinnati's food scene remember Jean-Robert

Chef Jose Salazar has been a semifinalist five times in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.

Chef Ryan Santos was as semifinalist in 2020 and Chef Elaine Uykimpang Bentz was a semifinalist in 2022 (under the name Elaine Townsend).

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.