ASHEVILLE - A West Asheville restaurant was in the running for an esteemed national award dubbed “the Oscars of the food world,” and though the team will not bring home a medal, there’s much for which they may be proud.
On June 5, James Beard Foundation’s 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony, was presented at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Neng Jr.’s, a Filipinx restaurant at 701 Haywood Road, was a nominee in the category of Best New Restaurant.
The award was presented to Kann, a Haitian restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
However, the nomination is another example of the Neng Jr.’s exceptional cuisine and service and the reputation it earned in its debut year.
The prestigious award program, named in honor of trailblazer chef James Beard, is designed to celebrate outstanding achievement and exceptional culinary talent with nominees exhibiting a “commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.”
The Best New Restaurant category is reserved for establishments that demonstrate "excellence in cuisine, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community, and seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”
Last summer, executive chef and owner Silver Iocovozzi opened the 17-seat dining room to showcase cuisine from the Philippines made with family recipes.
“Asheville has lost a lot of opportunities to really enrich its diversity in the past, and I think Neng Jr.’s is just a way to kind of get back to enriching the potential of not just West Asheville but Asheville in general,” Iocovozzi told the Citizen Times. “The exposure to a different cuisine than what people are used to is only better for the human experience.”
Since the summer of 2022, Neng Jr.’s has garnered a high reputation from customers and national media. Esquire ranked Neng Jr.'s No. 3 on its Best New Restaurant in America list and named Iocovozzi the Rising Star of the Year. The restaurant and chef have been featured in Bon Appetit, Eater, Vogue and more.
In 2022, two Asheville restaurants won James Beard Awards ― Chai Pani for Outstanding Restaurant and Cúrate for Outstanding Hospitality.
View the full list of 2023 finalists, winners and honorees at jamesbeard.org/awards.
For more about Neng Jr.’s, visit nengjrs.com.
Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: 2023 James Beard Awards winners announced: Did Asheville restaurant win?