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John Besh is a chef and a native son dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana. In his restaurants, entrepreneurial pursuits, and public activities, he preserves and promotes ingredients, techniques, and heritage one mouth-watering dish at a time. From the outset of his career, Besh’s talent and drive have earned him continuous kudos. In 2014, the James Beard Foundation inducted him into “Who’s Who in Food & Beverage.” Food & Wine named him one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America,” and he won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast in 2006. In 2009, he was awarded Food Arts’ Silver Spoon Award for revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans. His flagship restaurant, August, is a Gayot Top 40 Restaurant and a Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Restaurant, in addition to being a 2012 and 2013 James Beard Nominee for Outstanding National Restaurant (eligible only to restaurants open for ten years or more) and 2015 James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Service.
In 2015 Besh welcomed the latest addition to the BRG family: Willa Jean Bakery. Willa Jean Bakery, a collaboration between BRG Executive Pastry Chef Kelly Fields and Pastry Chef Lisa White (of Domenica and PIZZA Domenica), opened in August 2015.
In November 2015 the BRG announced an exciting new partnership with the beloved and historic Pontchartrain Hotel in which the restaurant group will execute all of the property’s food and beverage operations. The renovated Pontchartrain Hotel is slated to open in spring 2016.
In January 2016 the BRG announced the acquisition of a space in New Orleans to house a new private events venue, dubbed Pigeon & Prince in honor of the space’s previous incarnations as a pigeon roost and a bedsit for visiting royals. Executive Chef Erick Loos of La Provence is helming the culinary development for the space. Pigeon & Prince is expected to begin hosting events in late January.
Besh has authored four cookbooks: My New Orleans (October 2009) My Family Table (November 2011), Cooking from the Heart (November 2013) and most recently Besh Big Easy (September 2015) (Andrews McMeel Publishing). The books were recognized by John’s peers and the culinary industry by being awarded the prestigious IACP Award in the American category (2010, My New Orleans) and the Children, Youth and Family category (2012, My Family Table), with a nomination in 2014 for Cooking from the Heart.