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West Virginia chef Paul Smith receives Distinguished West Virginian Award after historic James Beard win

CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice presented Chef Paul Smith with a Distinguished West Virginian Award after he became the first state native to win the prestigious James Beard Award for culinary excellence.

Smith claimed the coveted “Best Chef: Southeast” award as part of the annual James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago on June 10, 2024. This competition showcased chefs from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He is the first finalist and first winner from West Virginia.

“This is the highest honor a governor can give in West Virginia, and I’m thrilled to name Chef Paul Smith a Distinguished West Virginian,” Gov. Justice said. “Chef Paul has reached the top of the culinary world as our state’s first James Beard Award-winning chef, and his passion for showcasing our unique flavors has really put West Virginia on the culinary map. Recognitions like this show everyone that we are a true culinary destination, and we couldn’t be prouder to call him one of our own. We can’t wait to see what he achieves next and how he will continue to inspire others with his dedication and passion for West Virginia’s culinary scene.”

“Chef Paul is a remarkable talent, leader, and mentor in the culinary industry across West Virginia. He is incredibly deserving of this Distinguished West Virginian’s honor,” Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby said. “Becoming a James Beard winner is nothing short of spectacular, and thanks to Chef Paul, people from across the state, country, and world are recognizing the Mountain State as a must-visit among culinary destinations. We all know Chef Paul will use this well-earned recognition to continue lifting up our state. Today’s Distinguished West Virginian award is just the latest of many more accolades to come.”

In addition to owning and operating multiple restaurants in Charleston, including 1010 Bridge, Barkadas, and The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill, Smith is active in his community, volunteering for various local nonprofits and education groups.

Smith is also a founding member of the West Virginia Chef Ambassadors Program through the West Virginia Department of Tourism, which highlights the tastes and talents across the Mountain State.

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