Philadelphia restaurants win prestigious James Beard Food Award: 'It's been surreal'

Three Philadelphia restaurateurs won prestigious awards for their eateries at a ceremony Monday night. 

Fork, High Street, Kalaya and Friday, Saturday, Sunday all took home James Beard Food Awards during a ceremony in Chicago that was streamed to YouTube.

"It's been surreal to be quite honest," Ellen Yin from High Street Hospitality Group said. She opened FORK over two decades ago helping to make Old City a restaurant destination. 

"I fell in love with this industry when I was a teenager, but it took me 25 years to realize that a restaurant is where I felt a true sense of belonging," said Yin, who owns both Fork and High Street. 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, a restaurant in Center City, was named 'Outstanding restaurant. Co-owner and Executive Chef Chad Williams opened the restaurant in 2016 with his wife Hannah.

Williams said he's "eternally grateful" to his restaurant staff for helping his business achieve the award. 

Chutatip "Nook" Suntaranon, a native of Thailand, took home the award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. Her restaurant, Kalaya in Fishtown, is named after her devoted mother. 

"This is something I want so bad, I really wanted so much," Sunaranon said.

The COVID-19 pandemic decimated many small businesses, especially in the restaurant business. Because of that, many believe this is an even bigger win for the city.

"I think having three restaurants being named shows the resiliency and diversity and amazing people who are part of the dining scene of Philadelphia," Yin said.