Marcus Samuelsson, Nite Yun of Oakland's Nyum Bai, and the New York Times California critic Tejal Rao are among the recipients. 

By Bridget Hallinan
February 04, 2019
Courtesy of Hamilton Princess & Beach Club

Last April, we announced that the Vilcek Foundation—which honors “multi-disciplinary contributions of immigrants to the U.S.”—was accepting applications for the 2019 Vilcek Foundation Prizes for the Culinary Arts. Each year, the foundation gives out awards in different categories of the arts and humanities—the culinary theme was chosen for 2019 because of the “abundance of immigrant influence in the fields,” according to a statement. Immigrants involved in the culinary arts, whether a chef, food writer, or baker, could apply for one of three $50,000 prizes (awarded for creative promise), while jurors selected the $100,000 grand prize winner from "the biggest names in the field." 

Today, the winners have officially been announced. Chefs Fabián von Hauske Valtierra (a Best New Chef from 2016) and Nite Yun (chef and owner of Nyum Bai in Oakland) will be taking home $50,000 prizes, as will the New York Times' Tejal Rao, the California restaurant critic. As for the grand prize itself? $100,000 will be awarded to none other than chef and restaurant owner Marcus Samuelsson. Over the span of his career, The Red Rooster chef has done everything from cook for the Obamas to serve as a judge on Chopped, and now has a TV show of his own, No Passport Required—considering the criteria for the grand prize is “individuals who are legendary in their field,” we’d say he certainly fits the bill. 

The four winners are determined by a panel of jurors: this year’s jurors include mkgalleryamp; Wine ’s Jordana Rothman, as well as Tom Colicchio and Andrew Knowlton. 

“Immigrants make enormous contributions to the United States, and this year we are lighting their contributions to American culinary arts,” Marica Vilcek, co-founder of the Vilcek Foundation, said in a statement. “They bring their talents to the most renowned kitchens across the country, bringing the technical excellence and worldly perspective that has made American restaurants among the best in the world.”

The winners will be honored at a gala in New York this April—Padma Lakshmi will present. The foundation will also be releasing a cookbook later year (fall 2019), filled with stories and recipes of 40 of the “U.S.’s greatest foreign-born chefs.”

Check out a video of the 2019 winners below:

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