Chef David Shannon, pictured at his 2015 Fire, Flour & Fork dinner. (Photo by: Stephanie Breijo)
[3/15/16 Update: The James Beard Foundation announced its full list of nominees this afternoon. Sadly, David Shannon is not a finalist in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category, though Peter Chang — listed as a representative of Arlington — is.]
L'Opossum's David Shannon is all smiles today, and with good reason: He's just been named a semifinalist for the 2016 James Beard Awards, the nation's premier dining and food-culture commendation.
"I'm just absolutely thrilled," the chef and restaurateur says. "I kept reading the list over and over again to make sure that was my name there! Then I started telling people it was."
Shannon was selected by The James Beard Foundation out of more than 20,000 entries for this year's restaurant and chef awards, and is one of 20 semifinalists in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. Over the course of the next month, the foundation's Awards Committee will determine the category's five finalists, and announce them on March 15 in San Francisco. Last year, Richmond semifinalists included chefs Lee Gregory (of The Roosevelt and Southbound), Peter Chang (of Peter Chang China Café) and Dale Reitzer (of Acacia Mid-town). Shannon is the only designated Richmond-area chef to garner a nomination this year; Peter Chang is nominated this year, but is listed as an Arlington, Virginia chef.
This is the chef's first James Beard Award nomination, and it follows a big year of accolades for him, his staff and his Oregon Hill restaurant. Southern Living recently named L'Opossum one of the best restaurants in the South, and closer to home, L'Opossum — which opened in August of 2014 — took home the 2015 Elby Award for Best New Restaurant; L'Opossum's Susan Worsham is currently nominated for the Elby's Server of the Year award.
According to Shannon, he learned of his nomination through Twitter alerts, and the phones began ringing shortly thereafter. And though only Shannon is nominated, he first thought of his L'Opossum family and immediately texted Todd Richardson, the restaurant's chief of staff.
"I'm just so honored and so happy for the whole staff here," Shannon says. "I'm so proud of them. They're just amazing; they make this happen. It's a win for the whole restaurant."