Commander's Palace (1403 Washington St., 504-899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com) chef Tory McPhail won the Best Chef: South category at the James Beard Foundation Awards (www.jamesbeard.org), which was held last week at New York's Lincoln Center.
McPhail was part of a contingent of New Orleans chefs who attended the ceremony. Beard awards are considered the most prestigious awards in the American culinary world. Also nominated for Best Chef: South were Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, Alon Shaya of Domenica and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's. New Orleans chefs accounted for four of the five nominations in the category, and the other went to Jeff McInnis of the Miami restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
A native of Washington state, McPhail initially worked at the (now closed) Las Vegas location of Commander's Palace before being named executive chef of the New Orleans restaurant in 2002.
Commander's Palace also figures into the career of another New Orleans chef honored at this year's James Beard awards. Emeril Lagasse launched his local career at the Garden District restaurant, and he was lauded as the 2013 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year (see "Bouquets & Brickbats," p. 7). The organization recognized the work of Lagasse's charitable foundation, which raises money through its local Boudin & Beer and Carnivale du Vin events to support youth and education programs.