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D.C.-area restaurants and chefs nab 3 James Beard Awards

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After receiving its highest number of finalist nominations in recent memory, D.C. is now home to two back-to-back winners in the outstanding chef category at the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. Michael Rafidi took home the award for outstanding chef for his Michelin-starred Levantine restaurant Albi, beloved by The Post’s food critic Tom Sietsema for its pita bread, baba ganoush and steamed manti, among many other dishes.

Palestinian American chef Rafidi, who dedicated the award to the Palestinian people, is also the owner of Yellow, a cafe and restaurant in Georgetown, which recently announced the planned opening of a Union Market location later this year. He was handed his medal by 2023 outstanding chef Rob Rubba of plant-based D.C. favorite Oyster Oyster.

Washington, D.C.-area restaurants took home two more awards at this year’s Beard Awards, held Monday at Chicago’s Lyric Opera. The awards are among the highest honors that chefs, restaurants and their operators can receive nationally, and they recognize excellence in the kitchen and in restaurant operations. Awards are also given to cookbooks, literature and journalism about food.

Masako Morishita of storied and colorful Adams Morgan Japanese fusion spot Perry’s opened the night with the award for best emerging chef, one of the event’s most prestigious awards. Morishita, originally from Kobe and the first Japanese woman to hold the role at Perry’s, emphasizes creativity in her cooking. “This is my wildest American Dream come true,” she exclaimed as she accepted the medal, and repeated to The Post. “The cuisine I cook is Japanese comfort food, which has been overshadowed by other types of Japanese cuisine. I hope I made all the Japanese moms proud.”

In another major win, Harley Peet won best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. His restaurant, Bas Rouge in Easton, Md., dishes out international fusion flavors including beef tataki with dehydrated kimchi and grilled shrimp stuffed with jalapeños.

“It’s still sinking in,” he said to The Post. “To bring [the award] home to the Eastern Shore — to be the first to do it is super special. We don’t have the luxury of an endless stream of customers. Our dining rooms aren’t always full. So hopefully, that will help [the Eastern Shore].”

D.C. also took home an honor in the media categories, announced Saturday: “The World Central Kitchen Cookbook” by José Andrés, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen and Sam Chapple-Sokol won the award for best international cookbook, which recognizes books that are “focused on food or cooking traditions of countries, regions or communities outside of the United States.”

Also honored at the awards were several other finalists from the D.C. area: Susan Bae and Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit, nominated for outstanding pastry chef or baker and best chef Mid-Atlantic, respectively; Baltimore Mexican restaurant Clavel Mezcaleria, nominated for outstanding bar; Tail Up Goat, nominated for outstanding wine and other beverage program; and Hollis Wells Silverman of Eastern Point Collective, nominated for best restaurateur.

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