Adam Evans, the chef at Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham’s Lakeview District, won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South tonight at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Called the Oscars of the culinary world, the James Beard Awards were established in 1990 by the James Beard Foundation to “recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and furthers the foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone.”
Evans, a native of Muscle Shoals and Auburn University graduate, recognized his staff, mentors, business partners, family and Birmingham during his acceptance speech.
“20 years ago I moved to New Orleans to learn how to cook. It was there I learned about the James Beard Foundation awards and I thought, maybe if I worked hard I could get my name on the list at some point. So, this is unreal for me to stand here today.”
“I’d like to thank the team at Automatic — the past and present — for coming in and doing all the work day in and day out… My community of Birmingham, Alabama is truly amazing. Their support, especially through the pandemic and those years. I’d like to thank my mom for teaching me the love of cooking. My dad, stepmom and brothers for their endless support. I like to thank my wife, Suzanne. The best partner. She designed the seafood restaurant of my dreams. Then she stayed there to help me open it and run it without ever working in a restaurant. Suzanne I love you. She’s also most importantly the best mother to our little baby boy. Hank Evans, this is for you!”
A Remarkable Journey
The story of Automatic Seafood and Oysters and the Evans family is inspirational.
Bham Now’s Christine Hull documented the restaurant’s journey in early 2020 with a story titled:
It is a great read.
First Bham James Beard Award Since 2018
Evans’ victory helps cement Birmingham as a foodie town.
Over the years, several beloved Birmingham chefs and restaurants have won the prestigious James Beard Award including:
- Highlands Bar & Grill—Outstanding Restaurant (2018)
- Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar & Grill—Outstanding Pastry Chef (2018)
- Hot and Hot Fish Club, Chef Chris Hastings— Best Chef: South (2012)
- Bright Star in Bessemer — American Classic (2010
- Highlands Bar & Grill, Chef Frank Stitt—Best Chef: Southeast (2001)
What’s next for Evans and Automatic Seafood and Oysters? Last year, the restaurant notched a Best New Restaurant nomination by the James Beard Awards. Maybe —outstanding restaurant? We can’t wait for 2023.