Longtime Miami Herald Food Editor Carlos Frías wasn’t expecting to win his second James Beard Foundation award Saturday night, but was thrilled to be honored for the type of reporting he loves — connecting with and sharing community stories.
“For me, there is nothing more important than telling the stories of Miami,” Frías, 46, said. “That really is the reason that I love doing the work, and through food I can tell so many stories.”
Frías was the winner of the Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award in the journalism category, which recognizes reporters who engage with the community through food and dining coverage. The James Beard Award is one of the highest honors in the culinary world.
“The biggest honor is winning in the category that I did, which is about getting to know the community that you write about,” he said. “It’s recognition for telling the stories of community.”
For the award, Frías submitted three works that showed his wide and impactful coverage of the South Florida food scene:
️ “’Too Much to Lose.’ Why a Miami Man Moved into a Backyard Tent During Coronavirus Crisis”: Frías told the story of John Delgado, a man who slept in his own backyard rather than risk infecting his family with coronavirus.
️ “Salt Bae’s Restaurant Called Cops on Customer who Wouldn’t Pay for Gold-Wrapped Steaks”: Nusret Gökçe, known as “Salt Bae”, sold $1,000 steaks wrapped in edible gold and when customer’s would dispute their bill, the restaurant would call the police.
️ “How to Eat Like a Local in Miami: A Local’s Guide to Dining in the 305”: Frías shared the best restaurants and holes in the wall to eat like a Miami local.
One piece that stuck the most to Frías, but was not submitted, was his chronicling of Miami’s historic ventanitas, walk-up cafes that double as social hubs in Latin communities across Miami-Dade County.
The summer after his father, Fernando Frías, was shot and killed by his neighbor, Carlos reconnected with the memories of him through learning the history of Miami’s ventanita.
“It was really therapeutic for me to tell the story of these cafe owners, like my dad was in Cuba, and why these little windows exist in Miami and nowhere else in the world,” he said. “It told a little piece of Miami’s cultural history, and ultimately that’s what I feel like my job is. I love standing at the intersection of food and culture in Miami, and telling the stories that came from that.”
When he was called to accept the award Saturday and walked to the stage, he recalled a memory of his father being proud of him as he came home with his first James Beard Award.
While giving his acceptance speech, he called on gun violence reform in honor of his father.
“It became an opportunity to talk about gun violence, to tell the world that we have to value human life and the people that we love more than guns,” he said. “We can’t let our country’s obsession with guns rob us of our loved ones, we have to make people a priority.”
This story was originally published June 12, 2022 8:07 AM.