Here's Who Won 2022's James Beard Award For Best New Restaurant

It might be challenging to consider a meal devoid of ingredients that we've had all our lives — from poultry and meat to butter and cheese, but that's exactly what you'll get when you dine at the James Beard 2022 awardee for Best New Restaurant, Owamni, per On Milwaukee. Owamni was founded by chef Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson under the Sioux Chef nonprofit initiative.

The restaurant offers up what it calls a "decolonized menu" — which strips the meal of ingredients that would not have been available before European settlers arrived in what became known as the United States. As a result, their dishes feature ingredients that would have come from the original diet of America's Indigenous peoples, and would include items like corn, game, and wild plants. "We've worked really hard to create something utilizing a lot of wild foods, utilizing a lot of Native American agricultural products," Sherman said, per KARE. In short, as Sherman points out, "There's no dairy, no wheat flour, no cane sugar, no beef, pork or chicken."

Owamni creates food with decolonized ingredients

The Star Tribune calls the restaurant "groundbreaking" and rightly so. It opened just last year to national acclaim and is located on a site that has great meaning to two Indigenous tribes: the Dakota and Anishinaabe people. On Milwaukee reveals that the restaurant is named after St. Anthony Falls, which in the Dakota language is Owámniyomni, or "place of swirling waters."

To Sherman, who has already won a 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook and a 2019 James Beard Leadership Award, Owamni could be as much a social enterprise as it is a restaurant. "We really just try to bring awareness because we believe there should be Native American Indigenous restaurants all over the place that really represent the land and the history and the cultures of where we are today," Sean Sherman said, per KARE.

"The menu is sourced first from Indigenous producers, second from local farms and third priority is organic. Our mission is to promote Indigenous foodways education and facilitate Indigenous food access," Thompson says, per On Milwaukee.