Charlotte pair didn’t move forward in James Beard Awards’ best chef Southeast competition

Charlotte chefs Daryl “DC” Cooper and Oscar Johnson — who were named semifinalists in the James Beard Awards’ Best Chef: Southeast category for their work at Jimmy Pearls — didn’t move forward in the competition’s next round.

The James Beard Awards released its finalists for restaurant and chef awards, and made its achievement awards honoree announcement, on Wednesday, April 3. The awards “recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability and a culture where all can thrive.”

Winners will be announced June 10.

[READ NEXT: ‘This is just wild’: James Beard nomination comes at a time of change for Jimmy Pearls.]

Foodies and seafood fans Charlotte are likely familiar with the work of Cooper and Johnson, who have served them Virginia-style seafood in food trucks and at the Market at 7th Street for several years. The chefs were also featured in the CharlotteFive series The Skillet: How Black Cuisine Became America’s Supper.

Cooper and Johnson also recently appeared as featured chefs at the Charleston Wine + Food festival.

In late March, the pair closed Jimmy Pearls’ space at the Market at 7th Street with plans for pop-ups and special events, saying: “We are not saying goodbye. We are reaching towards a future that will take Jimmy Pearls to the next level. Stay tuned and stay hungry.”

Over the past several, Charlotte chefs have gained national attention from the James Beard Awards, but none has claimed the prize. Renowned restaurateurs Gregory Collier, Sam Hart, Joe Kindred, Bruce Moffett and Paul Verica have been among those recognized — and some of them have been held up for praise multiple times.

William Dissen, who built Haymaker in Charlotte and recently sold it to Chris Coleman’s Built on Hospitality restaurant group, was also among the nominees. His Asheville restaurant, The Market Place, was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurant category but it did not move forward to the finals.

[READ NEXT: 2 NC chefs and a top Raleigh restaurant named James Beard finalists.]

Jimmy Pearls

Location: Varies

Cuisine: Southern, seafood, Virginia Tidewater


Instagram: @jimmypearlsclt