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September 27, 2021

Our predictions for tonight’s James Beard Awards

This year’s announcement will focus on community

This evening, the James Beard Foundation will host a live stream of the 2021 version of the famed awards. Instead of the usual curation of regional awards, this evening’s broadcast is titled the 2021 James Beard Awards: Stories of Resilience and Leadership.

The change comes as restaurants struggle during the pandemic, and this year will be the bridge to a more inclusive awards structure as recommended by an audit.

Unfortunately for Charlotte, it also comes in a year when we had a good chance of introducing a new restaurant to the list of semi-finalists and, perhaps for the first time, a finalist. Since opening, Leah & Louise has continued to impress diners with both its cuisine and true sense of identity — and the latter especially is a rare feat these days.

I’ll be surprised if Leah & Louise doesn’t make tonight’s presentation, billed as a broadcast that will “highlight stories of passion, commitment, and leadership, sharing work from inspirational individuals across the country.” Greg and Subrina Collier’s dedication to advancing equality in restaurants and beyond is well-known in Charlotte and beyond. They’re launching a food festival to do so. Of course, there’s also the fact that they opened a highly successful restaurant during the pandemic.

We’ll likely see Asheville or Raleigh on the broadcast, but the Charlotte area’s other best chance of seeking the James Beard Foundation spotlight tonight comes from Joe and Katy Kindred, who lead the count in Charlotte for semi-finalist nominations. The announcement and will do pro bono restaurant projects is certainly a unique and appealing pitch.

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