AP NEWS

Mississippi chef says culinary award ‘an incredible feeling’

May 11, 2019 GMT

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi chef has won a major culinary award after five previous nominations, a victory that the chef describes as “just an incredible feeling.”

The James Beard Foundation on Monday named Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford as its 2019 winner for best chef in the foundation’s South region.

“It was just an incredible feeling,” Bhatt told The Oxford Eagle of the moment his name was announced at the ceremony in Chicago. “You kind of go numb. You always want your name to be called but when it actually does happen you don’t really know what to do.”

Bhatt is thanking Oxford restauranteur John Currence, whose City Grocery Restaurant Group owns Snackbar, City Grocery and other restaurants in Oxford. Bhatt started working for Currence as a line chef at City Grocery in 2001. He became the lead chef at Snackbar when it opened in 2009.

“It’s a validation,” Bhatt said. “It says that the career path that I chose and continue on is a good one. That it’s important and people recognize the work we’re doing in Oxford. John Currence put Oxford on the map and I’m just following in his footsteps and it’s quite an honor to be able to do that.”

Bhatt also attributes his success to the restaurant’s staff.

“Without the work they put in day in and day out there’s nothing,” Bhatt said.

The foundation’s South region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico.

Currence won the same aware in 2009.

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com