Automatic Seafood and Oysters Adam Evans wins James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South

James Beard
Automatic Seafood and Oysters Adam Evans accepting the James Beard Best Chef: South Award. Screenshot from the James Beard Awards Twtter Live broadcast

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.” 

Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Lakeview(Jacob Blankenship/ Bham Now)

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.”

automatic2 Automatic Seafood and Oysters Adam Evans wins James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South
Owners Chris and Suzanne Evans last year (2019) at the future site of Automatic Seafood & Oysters in Lakeview. (Photo submitted)

“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:

 5 things to know about Automatic Seafood & Oysters opening April 1 in Lakeview

It is a great read.

First Bham James Beard Award Since 2018

Highlands Bar and Grill was featured by TripAdvisor. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

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:

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.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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