Chef Omar Anani
Chef Omar Anani of Saffron De Twah was one of three Detroit finalists for the 2023 national James Beard Awards. (Gabriel Guzmán photo)

Three Detroit chefs were named Wednesday as finalists in the annual James Beard Foundation awards: Omar Anani of Saffron De Twah, Andy Hollyday of Selden Standard, and Sarah Welch of Marrow. 

All three were nominated for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region.

“I’m very proud, very happy to represent Detroit,” said Anani of Saffron De Twah, who was a finalist for Best Chef last year as well. “At the end of the day it’s not my award, it’s the team’s award. They do all the work, they are absolutely amazing.” 


The finalist award is meaningful for the industry in Detroit as a whole too, he said. The James Beard Awards are a national contest held annually since 1991 and it is considered one of the highest honors in the restaurant industry. The winners are selected out of thousands of entries. 

“It’s great to see Detroit get recognition. We are finally seeing Detroit being seen as a culinary destination, and that is amazing as well.” 

Last year, Warda Bougettaya of Warda Pâtisserie won an award in the outstanding pastry chef category, the first James Beard win for Detroit in nearly three decades. 

There are various categories of the awards, including outstanding chef, outstanding bakery, and outstanding wine and other beverages. 

The semi-finalists were announced in January, with seven Detroit names on the list, and 14 in Michigan total. In Detroit, the semi-finalists were Sandy Levine, owner of Chartreuse, Freya, Dragonfly, and the Oakland, Good Cakes and Bakes, Anani of Saffron De Twah, Hollyday of Selden Standard, Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere of Baobab Fare in New Center, Mike Ransom from Ima, and Welch from Marrow. 

Sarah Welch, chef at Marrow, located in West Village, was named a finalist in the Best Chef in the Great Lakes region award category. (Facebook photo)

“Everyone on the list deserves the award,” Anani said. “I’m so much in shock emotionally just seeing all these great people and seeing how amazing they are. Being named a finalist means that the work that we’re doing, the food that we’re putting out, the values that we stand for – they really mean something.” 

The award ceremonies will be held in person in Chicago in early June. 

Jena is a BridgeDetroit's environmental reporter, covering everything from food and agricultural to pollution to climate change.

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