John Besh is a chef and a native son dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana. In his restaurants, entrepreneurial pursuits, and public activities, he preserves and promotes ingredients, techniques, and heritage one mouth-watering dish at a time.
Besh grew up in southern Louisiana and has set the benchmark for fine dining in New Orleans – a town whose identity is bound to its food. His eight acclaimed restaurants (August, Besh Steak, Lüke, Lüke San Antonio, La Provence,Domenica, Pizza Domenica and Borgne) celebrate the bounty and traditions of the region.
From the outset of his career, Besh’s talent and drive have earned him continuous kudos. In 2014, the James Beard Foundation inducted him into “Who’s Who in Food & Beverage.” Food & Wine named him one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America,” and he won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast in 2006. In 2009, he was awarded Food Arts’ Silver Spoon Award for revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans. His flagship restaurant, August, is a Gayot Top 40 Restaurant and a Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Restaurant, in addition to being a 2012 and 2013 James Beard Nominee for Outstanding National Restaurant (eligible only to restaurants open for ten years or more).
In August 2014, Besh will partner with his longtime friend, chef Aarón Sánchez, to open “Johnny Sánchez,” a farm-to-table taqueria with its first location in Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino, with a second New Orleans location to follow in the fall.
Besh has authored three cookbooks: My New Orleans in October 2009 and My Family Table in November 2011, and Cooking from the Heart, November 2013 (Andrews McMeel Publishing). The books were recognized by John’s peers and the culinary industry by being awarded the prestigious IACP Award in the American category (2010, My New Orleans) and the Children, Youth and Family category (2012, My Family Table), with a nomination in 2014 for Cooking from the Heart.
He is the host of two national public television cooking shows, based on his award-winning cookbooks: “Chef John Besh’s New Orleans,” and “Chef John Besh’s Family Table.”
“Hungry Investors,” Besh’s latest television endeavor, premiered in May 2014 on the Spike network. The show sees him traveling around the country alongside Chef Tiffany Derry and Jon Taffer to seek out and assist “diamond in the rough” failing restaurants to meet their potential. He has also appeared on top television programs on The Food Network and the acclaimed Sundance Channel “Iconoclast” series alongside his longtime friend, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
A U.S. Marine, Besh is proud to have partnered with Baton Rouge-based emergency reconstruction specialists Arkel International, for which he creates high quality ready-to-eat meals for distribution to thousands of emergency response teams and sustained strategic operations in the U.S. and around the world; the initiative promotes the Gulf Coast’s food culture as it elevates the Louisiana economy.
Besh’s non-profit organization, the John Besh Foundation, works to protect and preserve the culinary heritage and foodways of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area. In 2011, as part of the Foundation, the Chefs Move! scholarship was established to send a minority recipient to the International Culinary Center in New York City. The scholar pledges to return to New Orleans and work in the restaurant industry for five years, promoting and supporting diversity in the kitchen. To date, seven Chefs Move scholarships have been awarded. The Foundation also started a microloan program, in partnership with the Tulane School of Business, to financially assist and advise farmers and artisanal producers within 200 miles of New Orleans to grow their business.