Wilmington Chef Among 2024 James Beard Awards Semifinalists

By Jenny Callison, posted Jan 24, 2024
Seabird's Dean Neff at the downtown Wilmington restaurant (contributed photo, by Mallory Cash)
Wilmington chef Dean Neff has earned a spot on a prestigious foundation’s "best chefs" list.
Neff, chef/owner of Seabird in downtown Wilmington, was named one of 20 national semi-finalists in the Outstanding Chefs category by officials of the 2024 James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards. Semifinalists across 22 categories were announced Wednesday; Neff is the only member of the area hospitality industry to be recognized this year.
Seabird is known for its focus on seafood and oysters from the North Carolina coast. It’s his first solo venture: He previously was co-owner and chef of PinPoint Restaurant in Wilmington, drawing on his experience at distinctive restaurants in Athens, Georgia, and Asheville. Neff earned a James Beard Foundation semifinalist nomination in 2019 for his work at PinPoint, and the restaurant was named among the “Best New Restaurants in the South” by Southern Living – crediting the culinary leadership of Neff and his wife, pastry chef Lydia Clopton.
Seabird’s menu spotlights the couple’s passion about “foodways that make Wilmington so distinctive,” Neff says on the restaurant’s website.
Neff is the only North Carolina chef among the semifinalists in his category. Eleven North Carolina restaurants, bakeries and bars were included in the complete list of semifinalists. The finalists will be announced in early spring and the category winners in early June, according to the foundation’s website.

Established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991, the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards are one of five separate recognition programs of the James Beard Awards. The awards, according to the foundation, “Recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.”

The foundation honors James Beard, (1903-1985) a renowned chef, cookbook author, teacher and television personality who was a pioneer in championing American cooking. 
Ico insights


Headshots march websized 2


David Grandey - Highland Roofing Company
Jessiepowellheadshot webversion

5 Reasons to Build Custom Franchise Software

Jessie Powell - Wide Open Tech

The Importance of Real Estate Appraisals

Steve Mitchell - Cape Fear REALTORS®

Trending News

Bank, Nonprofit Look To Lease Skyline Center Space From City

Emma Dill - Feb 19, 2024

Homebuilders Association Adds Taylor As Director Of Business Development

Staff Reports - Feb 20, 2024

Insurance Company Leases Space In Upcoming Midtown Office Building

Cece Nunn - Feb 20, 2024

Coffee Shop, Bar Takes Flight In Downtown Wilmington

Laura Moore - Feb 21, 2024

Local Women's Impact Network Announces Board Officers, Members

Staff Reports - Feb 20, 2024

In The Current Issue

State Real Estate Leader Weighs In

"Forecasts from leading economists suggest a downward adjustment in interest rates by the middle of the year, a development that could notab...

MADE: IKA Works Inc. Equips Labs

IKA Works Inc. manufactures products used by universities, biotech companies and more....

Locals Cook Up Kitchen Concepts

Local chefs and restaurant industry owners are setting up shared kitchens, some with an entrepreneurial drive....

Book On Business

The 2024 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



2023 Power Breakfast: Major Developments