James Beard Awards: Zahav's Camille Cogswell wins for rising-star chef

CHICAGO — Camille Cogswell, pastry chef at Zahav restaurant in Society Hill, on Monday was named rising star chef of the year at the James Beard Awards at the Lyric Opera House. She was Philadelphia’s lone winner this year.

“It means so much to me, knowing that people believe in me,” said Cogswell, 27, her neck bearing a ribbon and the Beard medal.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “All these people nominated me based on what they think I’m going to do. This is really about the future.”

The future starts Friday, when she is due to return to work at Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s modern-Israeli restaurant.

Cogswell, who was nominated last year as well, grew up in Asheville, N.C., and attended the Culinary Institute of America before working at top New York restaurants. She joined Zahav in late 2015. She is only the second pastry chef to win the award.

Cogswell is engaged to Drew DiTomo, chef de cuisine at Amis.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / STAFF
Michael Solomonov and Gia Vecchio on the red carpet Monday at the James Beard Awards.
Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / STAFF
Okan Yazici (left), with wife Zehra Husikić, and Steve Cook, with wife Shira Rudavsky, of Zahav on the red carpet Monday at the James Beard Awards.

The makeup of this year’s winners was remarkably diverse, even by Beard standards. Best new restaurant JuneBaby, a Southern themer in Seattle, is run by Edouardo Jordan, who is African American, as is best pastry chef Dolester Miles of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Ala.; the best chef from the South, Nina Compton of Compere Lapin; and the best chef, Southeast, Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ. The year’s top baker, Belinda Leong, who with Michel Suas owns B. Patisserie in San Francisco, is of Chinese descent. ​

Jose Andres, the Washington, D.C.-based chef who led hunger-relief work in Puerto Rico, was given the Beard’s humanitarian award Monday night.

Philadelphia’s three additional nominees were:

  • Ellen Yin, who helped transform Old City two decades ago with the bistro Fork and who with partners grew an empire that includes a.kitchen, High Street on Market, and High Street on Hudson in New York City, was nominated for restaurateur of the year. Asked of her immediate goals,  she replied: “Right now, we’d like to solidify what we have. We’ve grown so rapidly.” Chef Eli Kulp, a business partner, has relocated to Philadelphia.
Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau of Vedge at the Lyric Opera House before the ceremony.
  • Rich Landau, chef/partner with his wife, Kate Jacoby, at the vegan destination Vedge in Washington Square, was nominated for best chef in the mid-Atlantic region. The couple’s holdings also include Wiz Kid and V Street, both also specializing in plant-based cooking, as well as the new Fancy Radish in Washington. Landau and Jacoby brought along eight employees, all of whom have worked for them for at least four years.
  • Zahav, owned by Solomonov and Cook, again was nominated for service. General manager Okan Yazici credited his staff’s “humbleness and sincerity.”

Philadelphia cleaned up in last year’s Beards, as Stephen Starr won for best restaurateur, Solomonov won for best chef, and Greg Vernick won for best chef in the mid-Atlantic region.

The winners:

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Camille Cogswell (Zahav, Philadelphia)

Baker

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas (B. Patisserie, San Francisco, CA)

Pastry Chef

Dolester Miles (Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL)

Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

Miljenko Grgich (Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA)

Wine Program

FIG (Charleston, SC)

Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Jeremiah Langhorne (The Dabney, Washington DC)

Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Rodney Scott (Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston, SC)

Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, Puerto Rico)

Nina Compton (Compère Lapin, New Orleans, LA)

Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice, Chicago, IL)

Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)

Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang, Boston, MA)

Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Edouardo Jordan (Salare, Seattle, WA)

Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Alex Seidel (Mercantile Dining & Provision, Denver, CO)

Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, CA)

Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Gavin Kaysen (Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis)

Chef: New York City

Missy Robbins (Lilia, Brooklyn, NY)

New Restaurant

JuneBaby, Seattle, WA

Service

Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA

Restaurateur

Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group, Los Angeles, CA

Restaurant

Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL

Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune, NYC)

Restaurant Design (75 seats and under)

Firm: The MP Shift
Designers: Amy Morris, Anna Polonsky, and Julie Nerenberg
Project: De Maria, NYC

Restaurant Design (76 seats and over)

Firms: Aidlin Darling Design with a l m project
Designers: Joshua Aidlin, David Darling, Adam Rouse, and Andrea Lenardin Madden
Project: In Situ, San Francisco

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Rich Landau from Vedge and Ellen Yin from Fork, two of Philadelphia’s James Beard nominees, at a welcome luncheon early Monday in Chicago.

Chef Andrew Zimmern arrives at the James Beard Awards.