A longstanding fine dining establishment in West Falls Church near Merrifield and a rising star in the Tysons culinary scene are both representing Fairfax County this year in the semifinals of the prestigious James Beard Awards.
The only Virginia eatery recognized in a nationwide category, 2941 Restaurant (2941 Fairview Park Drive) was named a semifinalist for “Outstanding Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation, which announced competitors for its 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards yesterday (Wednesday).
The list also includes Joon chefs Najmieh Batmanglij and Christopher Morgan, who made the semifinals for the regional “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category. Their Persian restaurant opened at Fairfax Square (8045 Leesburg Pike) in Tysons last June.
“The James Beard nomination recognizes how food can join chefs from different backgrounds and generations together to create a delicious and enticing experience for guests,” Joon co-founder Reza Farahani said in a statement to FFXnow. “We are humbled and appreciate the James Beard Foundation’s nomination of Chef Batmanglij’s and Chef Morgan’s talents and their modern take on this ancient cuisine. These two chefs’ approach to presenting a rich and diverse cuisine is a testimony to their artistry and skill.”
Named after the influential American chef, the James Beard Foundation has handed out awards lauding “exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts” annually since 1991.
Tucked away on the ground floor of an office building, 2941 has been recognized for seasonally-rotating menu — currently designed by Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel — and elegant setting, which includes a koi pond and a view of an artificial lake. Back in 2005, The Hill described it as a “gleaming example of suburban fine dining,” and it was called the best restaurant in Northern Virginia last year by Northern Virginia Magazine.
Dishes on Chemel’s current January tasting menu include baked Wellfleet oysters, a grilled venison chop and a chocolate biscuit with fig marmalade.
Before joining Joon, Batmanglij wrote cookbooks credited with helping introduce Iranian cuisine to the U.S., and Morgan co-founded the D.C. restaurant Maydan, which earned him a Michelin star. At the Tysons restaurant, they make kabobs and other Iranian dishes intended to showcase the country’s ethnic diversity, according to Joon’s website.
Located in the former Chef Geoff’s space, Joon also hosts a “virtual” food hall called The Kitchen Collective where local residents can pick up food from other concepts curated by Farahani, such as the D.C. restaurants Pizza Serata and Yasmine or the cookie shop Franki’s, which was inspired by Morgan’s daughter.
The finalists for the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced on April 3, and the winners will be revealed at a ceremony on June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
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