Philadelphia takes home top prizes at the 2017 James Beard Awards

M. Fischetti for Visit Philly

We already know that Philadelphia is the place to be if you’re a foodie but after multiple big wins at last night’s James Beard Awards, it’s official.

At the annual event, dubbed the Oscars of the food world, Philadelphia-area food professionals took home the evening’s top prizes: Stephen Starr won Outstanding Restaurateur (as well as Best New Restaurant for his French-inspired Le Coucou in New York); Michael Solomonov won Outstanding Chef for Philly crown jewel, Zahav; Greg Vernick of Vernick Food & Drink won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic; and Sam Calagione of Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery won Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.

After four years of being nominated for Best Restaurateur, Starr finally won this year and according to, said of the honor, “I couldn’t bear to hear my daughter Sara say, ‘You’re still number one to me,’ again.”

The win signals that Starr, who owns 32 restaurants in four different states, is finally being recognized as more than just a successful businessman — a culinary visionary.

Vernick and Calagione have also been waiting in anticipation for a win. After three years Vernick finally won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and after seven years, Calagione finally brought home the bacon (or in this case, beer!) for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.

To be a finalist is an honor in itself and Philly had a whopping seven nominees for the 2017 James Beard Awards. Zahav lost to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York for Best Service. Zahav’s pastry chef, Camille Cogswell, lost to Zachary Engel of Shaya in New Orleans for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Richard Landau of Vedge lost to fellow Philadelphian, Greg Vernick for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

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