Nisachon Morgan of the Vermont Thai restaurant Saap won the James Beard award for Best Chef: Northeast, beating out four other chefs — three from Portland, Maine, and one from Boston.
Morgan, the chef/owner of Saap in Randolph, accepted the award at Monday night’s ceremony in Chicago, celebrating the country’s top chefs and restaurants. Morgan, who has never received a nomination for the prestigious award before this year, beat out fellow local nominees Tiffani Faison of Orfano in Boston, Damian Sansonetti of Chaval in Portland, Vien Dobui of CÔNG TỬ BỘT in Portland, and Courtney Loreg of Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland. The category covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
“Chef Nisachon Morgan is proud to represent Vermont, and is committed to providing Saap’s guests with delicious traditional dishes from the Isaan region of Thailand,” Saap said in a post on its website. Morgan and her husband, Steve, opened the Randolph restaurant in 2014. Steve Morgan wrote that they were in Chicago on Monday for the awards ceremony.
“We have a passion for northern Thai fare. We emulate and share the wild, fresh, and fiery flavors of this wonderful region. At Saap, we believe good food doesn’t have to be overly expensive to be complex, intriguing, and exquisitely delicious,” Steve Morgan wrote. Nisachon Morgan could not immediately be reached for comment.
The annual awards, which are considered the food and beverage equivalent of the Oscars, are presented by the James Beard Foundation to recognize culinary professionals in the United States. Restaurateurs and chefs across New England had lower representation at this year’s awards. Rebel Rebel in Somerville was up for Outstanding Wine Program, but was beat out by The Four Horsemen in New York City. Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery in Portland was nominated in the category of Outstanding Baker, but she was bested by Don Guerra of Barrio Bread in Tucson.
Under new foundation guidelines, not only must honorees be great chefs and restaurateurs, they must also be valuable members of the community, and align with the Foundation’s values centered on creating a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy work culture, according to the James Beard website.
Brittany Bowker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.