A Richmond restaurant and bakery have snagged nominations for a James Beard Award.

Two Richmond restaurants are in the running for the prestigious James Beard Award. In its 30th year, the James Beard Foundation Award recognizes restaurants, chefs, journalists, and humanitarians in the food and beverage industry.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic: Sunny Baweja of Lehja

The nomination for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic goes to Chef Sandeep “Sunny” Baweja of Lehja. Located at Short Pump Town Center, Lehja serves Indian cuisine in a contemporary setting. Menu items include Tandoori chicken, vegetarian items, grilled seabass, lamb morsels with Mughlai cashew sauce, and traditional chicken curry, as well as vegetarian items and an extensive wine collection.

Lehja has been named Restaurant of the Year by Richmond Magazine. This is Baweja’s second James Beard nomination.

Outstanding Baker: Evrim and Evin Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery

Nominated for Outstanding Baker for the fourth year in a row, bakers and brothers Evrim and Evin Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery take the art of bread baking to a new level. They start with local and heirloom grains, use a stone-milling process, and bake in a wood-fired oven.

Sub Rosa Bakery is located in Church Hill and features Virginia-grown fruits, vegetables, and other regional ingredients. The menu features espresso, local Lamplighter Coffee, croissants, seasonal tarts, and granola with house yogurt. Breads range from light and sesame rye to whole rye, flatbread, and polenta.

Another Richmond connection on the James Beard nomination list is Peter Chang (of P.F. Chang), however, he's nominated along with his wife for their Mama Chang restaurant in Fairfax. 

From the full list of James Beard Award semifinalists, the roster goes down to five in each category, which will be announced on March 25. Final winners are then announced at an award gala on May 4 in Chicago.

Other Virginia James Beard culinary contestants include:

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

  • Peter and Lisa Chang, Mama Chang, Fairfax, VA
  • Zenebech Dessu, Zenebech Restaurant, Fairfax, VA

Outstanding Pastry Chef

  • Katherine Thompson, Thompson Italian, Falls Church, Virginia

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer


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  • Rutger de Vink, RdV Vineyards, Delaplane, Virginia

With a mission to celebrate and honor chefs and food industry professionals, the James Beard Foundation is named for chef, cookbook author, TV personality, and teacher James Andrew Beard. Previous James Beard winners include Bobby Flay, Jose Andres, Emeril Lagasse, Beverly Kim, Julia Child, Ashley Christensen, and Mario Batali.

Have you been to any of these James Beard-nominated restaurants? Let us know in the comments.