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Owners of Ocean Springs’ Vestige...

Owners of Ocean Springs’ Vestige up for James Beard Best Chef honor

By: Frank Corder - May 26, 2023

Vestige in Ocean Spring, Mississippi

Jackson County Chef Alex Perry and his wife Kumi Omori are among the finalists for the Best Chef in the South region category for the prestigious culinary award.

The owners of Vestige, a contemporary American restaurant in historic downtown Ocean Springs, are up for one of the highest national honors in the culinary industry next week.

When the James Beard Foundation announced their 2023 Restaurant and Chef Award nominees in March, Vestige’s owners Chef Alex Perry and his wife Kumi Omori were among the finalists for the Best Chef in the South region category.

Alex was previously a 2019 Semifinalists in the James Beard Best Chef South category.

The South region includes Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Puerto Rico. Others competing for the recognition in the category are:

  • Ana Castro, Lengua Madre, New Orleans, LA
  • Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL
  • Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando, FL
  • Natalia Vallejo, Cocina al Fondo, San Juan, PR
Duck as prepared at Vestige in Ocean Springs.

The James Beard Foundation notes that the chefs selected set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities and are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions, while contributing positively to their broader community.

“The James Beard Awards celebrate outstanding achievement and exceptional culinary talent, as well as all those doing incredible work on behalf of our communities and wider food system. This year’s nominees, winners, and honorees are inspiring exemplars of that,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO, James Beard Foundation in a statement. “We congratulate all those recognized today and look forward to celebrating them at another exciting Awards Weekend in Chicago this June.”

Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

French Hermit Oyster as prepared by Vestige in Ocean Springs

Vestige is locally owned by Perry who is an Ocean Springs native and his wife, Omori, who grew up in Japan. The couple, who has been in business together since 2013, says their food is often inspired by flavors and techniques of Japan, taking what grows locally and turn it into tasty dishes that are the Chef’s own interpretation of Japan. ​

Vestige’s owners say they believe in seasonality, sustainability and locality whenever possible, adding that those tenets allow them to create wholesome dishes that they feel good about serving and eating.

Those visiting Vestige can expect a Che’s choice, five-course pre-set tasting menu that changes daily. The offerings are seasonal and market driven, depending largely on what is fresh and available. The quaint, intimate restaurant has limited indoor seating and reservations are encouraged. Vestige is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: