CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston-based Chef Paul Smith now takes home another prestigious accolade– the Distinguished West Virginian Award.

Governor Jim Justice presented Smith with the award Tuesday following his other big win a couple of weeks ago in Chicago.

“He just won the Best Chef: Southeast award from the James Beard Foundation, gosh darn that’s really great stuff,” Justice said.

Chef Paul claimed the prestigious culinary arts award as the first chef from West Virginia to ever do so on June 10. The James Beard Awards are considered the “academy awards for chefs.”

The Best Chef: Southeast award that’s part of the James Beard Awards Foundation showcased chefs from four other states: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Justice said in a statement that presenting the Distinguished West Virginian Award is the highest honor he can give to a fellow resident of the Mountain State and that Smith is very deserving of it.

“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,” a statement from Justice read. “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.”

Smith owns multiple restaurants in the Kanawha Valley, including 1010 Bridge, the qualifying restaurant of the James Beard competition.

He 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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