Chef Paul Smith becomes West Virginia’s first James Beard Award-winning chef

Charleston chef wins ‘Best Chef: Southeast’ category

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The West Virginia Department of Tourism celebrates acclaimed West Virginia chef Paul Smith winning the coveted ‘Best Chef: Southeast’ award, part of the annual James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago on Monday night. The competition included chefs from five states, including Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Smith is the first finalist and first winner from the state of West Virginia.

Always focused on promoting his home state, Chef Paul – as he’s known locally – began his acceptance speech from the stage of Chicago’s Lyric Opera House by celebrating his roots:  “Two words that have never been mentioned here before: West Virginia. Thank you to my community, thank you to my team, and thank you for allowing me to work next to you, lead you, and try to make a difference in your lives every day.”

Smith is a well-known community leader who generously gives his time to dozens of local nonprofits and education groups. He often says that a rising tide lifts all boats, a belief he incorporates into his daily life by always being available to lend a hand to others in the industry.  It’s not unusual to find him helping another chef in their kitchen or at Carver Career and Technical College working with students. Later this month, he will partner with the West Virginia Department of Tourism to offer a cooking class to students participating in the inaugural Governor’s School on Tourism.

“No one deserves this honor more than Chef Paul.  He’s a remarkable chef who also makes time to be a leader and mentor in the restaurant industry across West Virginia,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “He exemplifies the very best our state has to offer, and we’re lucky to have him represent us on the national stage as a James Beard winner.”

Today, Smith has multiple restaurants in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital: Barkadas, The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill, and 1010 Bridge Restaurant. Since opening four years ago, 1010 Bridge has quickly gained a reputation as one of the state’s premiere dining destinations. Smith works with local farmers and in-state vendors to source quality ingredients for his restaurants.

He’s also a founding member of the West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program. As a chef ambassador for Governor Justice, Smith volunteers to serve at tourism-related events like Tourism Day at the Legislature, the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, and numerous dinners and other events for tourism and economic development.

“Thanks to Chef Paul, people across the state and around the world now realize West Virginia is a culinary destination.  I’m proud to call him a friend and colleague,” continued Secretary Ruby. “If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that Paul will use this well-earned recognition to continue lifting up his community and his state. I can’t wait to see what he does next.”

About Chef Paul Smith
Chef Paul’s passions for food and his Appalachian home have taken him on a culinary journey that he is proud to share with his community. With his BA from West Virginia State University, he formally trained at New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America (graduated with honors) and CIA’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley, California, where he studied pastries and wine and graduated as Valedictorian.

Paul has worked around the country, from The Ritz Carlton Resort in Naples, Florida, to the world-renowned Biltmore Estates in Asheville, North Carolina, to The Windsor Club in Vero Beach, Florida. Taking the tastes and techniques of every stop along his culinary journey, he longed to return to his roots and tell these culinary stories through the traditions and flavors of Appalachia.

Photos, courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Tourism, can be accessed here.

SOURCE West Virginia Department of Tourism

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