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South Carolina collects multiple James Beard Award nominations

City Limits BBQ
James Robinson/City Limits BBQ
City Limits BBQ was nominated for a James Beard Award

Several South Carolina food establishments and chefs are hoping to bring pride to the Palmetto State after being nominated for the 2024 James Beard Awards.

The James Beard Awards were established in 1990 with the first awards given out in 1991 to recognize talent in culinary arts, hospitality, media, and the broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

In the Upstate, three Greenville area restaurants earned James Beard semifinalist nominations. Scoundrel, a French restaurant, was nominated for Best New Restaurant. Farm-to-table restaurant Topsoil was nominated in the Chef category for pastry chef Tania Cienfuegos Harris. O-Ku Sushi was nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur.

O-Ku Sushi's Greenville location opened in July 2023 and has an exclusive executive chef and locally-influenced menu.

In the Midlands, Kitwanda “Kiki” Cyrus and Tyrone Cyrus of Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles and Robbie Robinson of City Limits Barbeque in West Columbia were nominated for Best Chef: Southeast.

The Southeast region is composed of the states, of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles prides itself on its variety of home-cooked meals. Bobby Gee, the Food Cousin, a South Carolina-based food influencer, says he loves how Kiki’s reminds him he is always at the right place.

“I've found a home at Kiki’s and it’s because the atmosphere and food they make remind me of family. You can taste the love with each bite. Kiki’s represents the best of the Midlands cuisine for real everyday people,” said Gee.

The family-owned City Limits Barbeque has been smoking up authentic eats since its inception in 2016. Owner Robbie Robinson says the keys to the flavorful food is the all-wood burning pits for Texas and Carolina-style BBQ and an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

“I’m incredibly humbled, and honored - the years of hard work, and the sacrifices from family and workers are truly amazing. When we started the goal was to get it back the hard way, and the James Beard Award is a symbol of excellence that we want to achieve," said Robinson.

Lula Drake Wine Parlour, a Columbia-area bar and a previous nominee for the James Beard Award, was nominated for Outstanding Wine and Beverage Program. Owner Tim Gardner says the recognition is what the wine bar has always aimed for.

“I’m so excited for the staff, and our fellow nominees. This is a big win for Columbia. While we are often overlooked in this great city, it’s now become obvious that this is a wonderful place to visit. Our culinary scene is on fire!" said Gardner.

In the Lowcountry, Remy Funfrock, of La Pâtisserie, was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, while Edmund’s Oast in Charleston was nominated for Outstanding Bar. Jacques Larson, of The Obstinate Daughter in Sullivan’s Island was nominated for Best Chef: Southeast. And Nikko Cagalanan of Kultura in Charleston was nominated in the Emerging Chef category.

Kultura is a restaurant specializing in Filipino dishes that have an interesting take on Filipino cuisine with a menu highlighting local, fresh ingredients.

“We are very humbled to be included in this amazing list of chefs. My team and I are excited for the future and are so grateful to have all of our hard work recognized. Though my restaurant Kultura Charleston just opened 6 short months ago, I’ve been working towards this for a long time,” said Cagalanan.

South Carolina James Beard nominations:

  • Best Chef Southeast for City Limits Barbeque (West Columbia), Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles (Columbia), Chubby Fish (Charleston), and The Obstinate Daughter (Sullivan’s Island)
  • Outstanding Wine and Beverage Program for Lula Drake Wine Parlour (Columbia)
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker for La Pâtisserie (at Hotel Bennett Charleston) and Topsoil Restaurant and Market (Travelers Rest)
  • Outstanding Bar for Edmund’s Oast Restaurant (Charleston)
  • Emerging Chef for Kultura (Charleston)
  • Best New Restaurant for Scoundrel (Greenville)
  • Outstanding Restaurateur for O-Ku Sushi (multiple locations in the Southeast including Greenville)
Marcus Flowers is an award-winning content producer who specializes in various topics.