Local chef heads to James Beard Awards in Chicago

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – Monday is an exciting day for one Eastern North Carolina chef.

Washington’s The Hackney Executive Chef Jamie Davis is at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony.

Davis found out he was a finalist for best chef in the Southeast in April.

Jamie Davis, James Beard Foundation Award Nominee says, “Started cooking at Smithfield’s Chicken and Barbecue at 16 as a dishwasher and kind of worked my way up and just continued.”

After being in the business for many years, the nomination is an honor.

Susanne Hackney, The Hackney co-owner and manager told WITN, “It’s so special because he’s worked so hard and he’s part of our family. We’re a family here at The Hackney and it means everything in terms of the award for him but for The Hackney too.”

Davis is one of five finalists at the awards in Chicago. “Means all the hard work paid off. It means you don’t have to be from a big city or go to the best culinary arts school. As long as you work hard and are dedicated to your craft, it’ll pay off,” Davis said.

Davis says his hope is for The Hackney and Eastern North Carolina to be a stopping place on the map. “More recognition for the Eastern North Carolina culinary scene. You don’t have to go to the big cities. You can come to a smaller town and enjoy the small community, small living, waterfront, and hangout.”

Regardless of Monday’s outcome, Hackney told WITN this is just the start for not only The Hackney but also Davis and his impact on ENC as a whole.

“He keeps us all laughing and our heads up and the whole team – the front of the house, the back of the house – it makes it for an enjoyable experience,” Hackney said.

The awards from Monday night’s ceremony in Chicago will be live-streamed online. To watch, visit here.