Restaurant News & Reviews

Ocean Springs chef gets James Beard nomination in nation’s top food awards

Chef at Vestige whips up a tasty pork meal

Vestige chef prepares a pork, carrot and butter bean plate.
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Vestige chef prepares a pork, carrot and butter bean plate.

Ocean Springs chef Alex Perry has been nominated in the nation’s top food honors, the James Beard Awards.

His restaurant, Vestige, is an upscale Modern American restaurant that serves farm-to-table and seasonal dishes. It opened in 2013 next to Lovelace Drugstore on Washington Avenue in downtown.

Perry is a semifinalist in the Best Chef: South category, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico. The semifinalists were announced Tuesday.

New Orleans and Oxford are frequently nominated in the category, and many Coast chefs have worked under James Beard Award-winning chefs, but this may be the first nomination for a restaurant in South Mississippi.

When Vestige first opened, our food reviewer Julian Brunt said it was “sensational” and “hard not to wax poetic” about the food.

“The level of perfection there is off the charts,” Brunt said in 2017. “Chef Alex Perry is the most talented young chef I know, and he is going places.”

Perry is a Le Cordon Bleu College graduate, and Brunt said he was inspired by celebrity Chef Thomas Keller and his famous French Laundry Restaurant in California.

Vestige is small, family-owned restaurant with gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly menu items. “Reservation slots are often limited, especially on weekends” its website says. It’s open for lunch Tuesday-Friday and dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

List of semifinalists for Best Chef South:

  • Lindsay Autry, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach, FL
  • David Bancroft, Acre, Auburn, AL
  • Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, MS
  • Bill Briand, Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina, Orange Beach, AL
  • Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach, FL
  • Alex Eaton, The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, Jackson, MS
  • Jose Enrique, Jose Enrique, San Juan, PR
  • Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette, New Orleans
  • Maria Mercedes Grubb, Gallo Negro, San Juan, PR
  • Michael Gulotta, Maypop, New Orleans
  • Mason Hereford, Turkey and the Wolf, New Orleans
  • Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL
  • Brad Kilgore, Alter, Miami
  • Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Miami
  • Matthew McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR
  • Alex Perry, Vestige, Ocean Springs, MS
  • Jeannie Pierola, Edison: Food+Drink Lab, Tampa, FL
  • Slade Rushing, Brennan’s, New Orleans
  • Melissa Donahue-Talmage, Sweet Melissa’s Café, Sanibel, FL
  • Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans

Saint Leo in Oxford also was nominated for Outsanding Bar Program.

Find the full list of nominations here.

Dale and Tina Stevens' Sand Ridge Farm, located outside of Lucedale, is home to around 50 red wattle hogs. They range freely on the large farm, and eat an all-natural diet of knee-high grass planted in pastures on the property. If you want to try

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Lauren Walck has been in journalism on the Gulf Coast for 10 years, and she’s the Sun Herald’s senior news editor and a regional growth specialist. She is a Mobile, Alabama, native and an Louisiana State University alumna.


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