Sylvia’s Restaurant Wins 2024 America’s Classics Award

March 1, 2024

By HWM Partnership

Harlem’s beloved Sylvia’s Restaurant, nestled at 328 Malcolm X Blvd., has secured its place among the culinary greats.

They have secured one of the six recipients of the esteemed 2024 America’s Classics Award, bestowed by the renowned James Beard Foundation.

The announcement made public on Wednesday, heralds Sylvia’s as a beacon of local pride and independent culinary excellence.

Founded in 1962 by the late Sylvia Woods, affectionately known as “The Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia’s Restaurant has become an iconic institution, embodying the spirit of American entrepreneurialism and determination. What began as a humble luncheonette, where Sylvia honed her skills as a cook and waitress for over 16 years, has evolved into a cultural landmark, serving up traditional South Carolina soul food to a diverse array of patrons, from Presidents and dignitaries to the cherished residents of Harlem.

Under the stewardship of Sylvia’s son, Kenneth Woods, the restaurant’s legacy continues to flourish, expanding into a national brand encompassing food products, catering services, cookbooks, real estate ventures, scholarships, and more. The recognition of Sylvia’s as an America’s Classics winner not only pays homage to its rich history but also celebrates its enduring impact on the culinary landscape.

The America’s Classics Awards, established in 1998 by the James Beard Foundation, honor restaurants that embody the essence of American cuisine and community spirit. This year’s winners will be formally recognized at the prestigious James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on June 10 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, lauded the America’s Classics winners as “cornerstones of our communities” and “national treasures,” reflecting the diverse tapestry of American food culture. These awards stand as a testament to the Foundation’s commitment to recognizing culinary excellence while championing principles of equity, sustainability, and inclusivity.

As anticipation builds for the upcoming James Beard Awards, slated to unveil additional nominees and honorees, culinary enthusiasts await eagerly to see who will join the ranks of those celebrated for their contributions to the culinary arts and beyond. Stay tuned for further announcements in the weeks to come, as the culinary world prepares to honor its brightest stars.

“Sylvia’s won this prestigious award. They deserve a big applause for representing the standards set by Ms. Sylvia 62 years ago and the next generation of her grandchildren are running the operations now too. Big ups because the Woods family work hard to satisfy their customers,” stated Harlem World Magazine, Food editor, Lil Nickelson.

Photo credit: Sylvia’s team during their 61st anniversary. by Seitu Oronde.

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