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Canlis’ Brady Williams Wins James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest

It was the lone win for the Seattle area at the May 6 ceremony

An exterior view of Canlis restaurant at night, with stone walls lighted in the foreground and the tops of trees seen in the background.
Brady Williams has been Executive Chef of Canlis since 2015.
Canlis Restaurant

Tonight, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2019 winners at an awards ceremony in Chicago, and Brady Williams from Seattle’s iconic fine dining destination Canlis nabbed an award for Best Chef Northwest. It was the only accolade of the night doled out to a Seattle restaurant or chef (although Canlis also received the foundation’s Design Icon Award back in March). Williams was chosen over fellow Seattle chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule and three Portland chefs: Han Oak’s Peter Cho, Coquine’s Katy Millard, and Castagna’s Justin Woodward.

The awards — sometimes referred to as the Oscars for food — are the culmination of months of anticipation, and Seattle had been well-represented among the semifinalists this year, but not so much among the finalists. The only other nominee besides Canlis and Joule was Heliotrope Architects and Price Erickson Interior Design for its work on Willmott’s Ghost (it lost to Studio Writers, who designed New York’s Atomix).

Though Canlis lost in the Outstanding Service category on Monday night to Boulder, CO’s Frasca Food and Wine, it’s on a roll. The restaurant won its first James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program in 2017 after being shut out of the winner’s circle throughout the past two decades; it won the aforementioned Design Icon Award this year; and now it’s added another to its trophy case.

Williams joined Canlis as its sixth-ever Executive Chef in 2015 at the age of 29, and made an immediate impression. Not long after he started, the Seattle Times’ star critic Providence Cicero wrote that the restaurant had become more relevant and achieved “new harmony.” Now Williams and Canlis have the hardware to prove it.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.


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