Surprise! This City Is Leading the Pack in "Food Oscars" Nominations

It's actually no surprise if you've ever eaten in NOLA, but it still counts as an upset. Sorry, NYC and SF!

The James Beard Foundation Awards nominations for 2016 have just been announced, and guess which city has more nominees per capita than any other? It's not New York City, not San Francisco, not Chicago, and not Los Angeles. Guess again.

The answer is: New Orleans. The world-class food city racked up a solid eight nominations for this year's awards, placing it only behind New York (with 17 nominations), Chicago (12) and San Francisco (10). But those cities have significantly bigger populations, so New Orleans is actually ahead of the pack per-capita-wise.

Todd Price of the Times-Picayune and Nola.com did the math proving that when New Orleans's size is taken into account, the city comes out on top. NOLA has a 1.25 million population, as of the most recent census: "That means that in 2016 New Orleans has .64 James Beard Award nominees per 100,000 residents," Price writes. San Francisco comes in a distant second, at .22.

The nominations are divided into national and regional categories, and New Orleans is killing it on both fronts. Its national nominations include chef Donald Link of Herbsaint in the Outstanding Chef category. For Outstanding Bar Program, two of the five national nominees are—no big surprise here—from New Orleans: Cure and Arnaud's French 75. Three of the five regional nominees for the South are from NOLA, includingTop Chef  Season 11 alum Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery (pictured below), Isaac Toups of Toups' Meatery (and a current contestant on Top Chef Season 13) and Slade Rushing of Brennan's.

The winners will be announced on May 2 at Chicago's Lyric Opera. The annual black-tie event, nicknamed the Oscars of the Food World, will be hosted this year by Top Chef alum Carla Hall. The James Beard journalism awards, hosted by Ming Tsai, will happen in New York City on April 26.

See the full list of 2016 James Beard Award nominees here.

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