Preeti Waas Named Semifinalist for 2023 James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation just announced its 2023 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Semifinalists—and Raleigh’s Preeti Waas of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium nabbed a nod as Best Chef: Southeast semifinalist!

The seasoned restaurateur opened her whimsical concept last year—which quickly soared in popularity thanks to its unique food offerings, colorful bazaar and vibrant interior. Should Waas win, it will be a two-eat for the Triangle—as Durham chef Ricky Moore of Saltbox claimed the top industry award for Best Chef: Southeast last year.

“Congratulations to all our 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists! This is always an exhilarating moment as we kick off the Awards cycle and recognize the outstanding achievements of individuals and teams across the country,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation. “After a year of fundamental changes, we look forward to building on the progress made, celebrating those paving a better future for us all—through their talent and craft, service to others, and commitment to a better, more sustainable industry. We look forward to sharing more exciting details for the 2023 ceremonies in the coming days.”

The 2023 Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists are recognized across 23 categories, including the new Award for Outstanding Bakery. Nominees will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 5, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

Additional 2023 James Beard semifinalists in the state include:

Durham’s Kingfisher (Outstanding Bar)
Wilmington’s Dean Neff of Seabird (Best Chef: Southeast Semifinalist)
Asheville’s Neng Jr.’s (Best New Restaurant Semifinalist)
Asheville’s Josiah McGaughey of Vivian (Best Chef: Southeast Semifinalist)

Congrats to all who made the list!

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.