Five Queens restaurants and chefs named as prestigious James Beard Award semifinalists

Photo courtesy of Adda Indian Canteen

Thirty-seven restaurants and chefs across New York City have been chosen as semifinalists to win the coveted James Beard Award, and this year, five of them are from Queens.

On Feb. 27, the James Beard Foundation announced the nominees for the 2019 Restaurant and Chef Awards which included Adda Indian Canteen and Casa Enrique in Long Island City, SriPraPhai in Woodside, Dumpling Galaxy in Flushing and Xi’an Famous foods (multiple locations).

Categories for the 29th annual Restaurant and Chef Awards span 21 categories including Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Resturant and Rising Star Chef of the Year. Hundreds of chefs and restaurants across the country were nominated for the awards affectionately called “the Oscars of the food world.”

Cosme Aguilar from Casa Enrique (5-48 49th Ave.) and Helen You of Dumpling Galaxy (42-35 Main St.) were nominated for the Outstanding Chef: New York City category alongside 18 other culinary heavy-hitters in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Chef Aguilar from the Michelin-star rated Casa Enrique came from Chiapas, Mexico and learned to cook his mother’s traditional recipes from his sister. He came to New York in 1998 and got his start in the restaurant industry as a porter at a French restaurant before opening Casa Enrique in 2012. The Mexican restaurant has been awarded multiple Michelin stars since its opening and was the only Queens restaurant to get one in 2019.

The restaurant congratulated Aguilar for his James Beard Award nomination on Instagram.


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Congratulations to our Chef Cosme Aguilar on being named 2019 James Beard Award semifinalist for the best chef of New York City!

A post shared by Casa Enrique LIC (@casaenrique) on

Tianjin Dumpling owner You opened Dumpling Galaxy at Flushing’s Arcadia Mall in 2014. In her Dumpling Galaxy cookbook, You credits dumplings with the successes that she’s experienced throughout her life. “Everything I have today I owe to dumplings, and they have always meant more than just a good meal,” You said. Her mom taught her how to roll dumplings in her hometown of Tianjin, China and she brought the skill with her when she came to the United States.

In the Best New Restaurant category is Adda Indian Canteen (31-31 Thomson Ave.) which has been serving up its “unapologetic” Indian cuisine since last September. Owner Roni Mazumdar and Chef Chintan Pandya are the culinary duo behind Adda as well as Rahi in Greenwich Village.

The pair crafted the menu based on foods that they had while growing up in India and intended for the restaurant to be a departure from the upscale Indian eateries on the market. Chef Pandya has been profiled in the Michelin Guide and was also awarded the StarChefs Rising Star Award for 2019.

On Adda’s Instagram page, the team said that it was an honor to be nominated alongside “other esteemed restaurants” for the prestigious award.

SriPraPhai (64-13 39th Ave.) is also among the acclaimed Queens establishments on the nomination list. The Thai restaurant in Woodside is among the nominees for Outstanding Restaurant and was started by Sripraphai Tipmanee in the 1990s. The restaurateur also has another location on Long Island.

Xi’an Famous Foods CEO and president Jason Wang is up for Outstanding Restaurateur. Wang first opened the fast-casual chain in 2005 and based the recipes off of dishes from his family’s hometown of Xi’an in China. The first Xi’an Famous Foods was located in the basement of the basement of the Golden Mall in Flushing but has since expanded to Manhattan and Brooklyn.

On Instagram, the owner said that he was “honored to be included as a Best Restaurateur semifinalist of James Beard Foundation 2019 Awards.”

According to the James Beard website, the final nominees will be announced in Houston on March 27 and the official gala will be on May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.