Two Hudson Restaurateurs Make James Beard Semifinalist List

Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo of Lil’ Deb’s Oasis compete for the title of Best Chef: Northeast.


This spring, the Hudson Valley may very well have a place at The James Beard Awards Gala. Well, not the whole Hudson Valley. Instead, the honor of representing the region goes to none other than Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo, the masterminds behind Lil’ Deb’s Oasis in Hudson. Both women made the cut on the lineup of semifinalists competing for the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards in 2019.

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The semifinalist list, which dropped on February 27, includes categories that range from the “new” (Best New Restaurant, Chef) to the “outstanding” (read: longstanding), and include chefs and restaurants from across the 50 states.

Wow. Y’all – for the last few years, running our restaurant has been a true journey filled with highs and lows and lessons and love and building community and growth and tears and laughter. Today we are HONORED to be recognized as semifinalists for the @beardfoundation Best Chef Northeast Award. TEARS OF JOY to be on this list — and in some fantastic company ( we looking at you!!). We of course could not have gotten here without the tireless work, charm and spirit of our incredible staff – and from our community of supporters who truly understand who we are and why we’re here! Slide thru for one of the first reviews we ever received (by @susiedp 🌹)that we think captures our essence pretty well…still rings true almost three years later, right? And last but certainly not least,THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU for showing up for us – we would not be here without you!!!! xoxoxox forever and ever kisses 🥰💒💞💋

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In 2019, the Hudson Valley holds a place among the 20 chefs competing for the title of Best Chef: Northeast. Black and Perez-Gallardo stack up against rising culinary stars like Tiffani Faison of Tiger Mama in Boston, MA, Victor Parra Gonzalez of Las Puertas in Buffalo, and James Mark of North in Providence, RI. While the competition is fierce, the Lil Deb’s ladies have the potential to last through to March 27, when James Beard announces its list of five finalists per category. After all, the artist-chef duo behind the Hudson eatery are most definitely unique, with their tropical-inspired theme, cult creative following, and colorful merch. Their menu embraces the vacation vibes epitomized by the restaurant’s aesthetic and leans into flavors like sweet plantains, spicy chorizo, and smooth passion fruit.

Although the Lil Deb’s location in Hudson is currently closed for renovation, Black and Perez-Gallardo continue to operate in pop-up services at places like Home/Made in Hudson and MeMe’s Diner in Prospect Heights as they work to reopen by mid-March. The pair offer updates on Instagram about where diners can find Lil Deb’s as it sets up temporary shop throughout New York.

Feeling incredibly thankful to have shared this past weekend with our dear friends @memesdiner. To be honest, when we jumped at the opportunity to do this pop-up we had no idea how deeply generous and incredible Libby & Bill and the team at Meme’s are and how quickly we would feel that soul connection that only happens between kindred spirits. Well, after a lovely and busy weekend feeding the citizens of NYC we can safely say that we are now bonded as family. Thank you for supporting us during this hard time and manifesting the kind of symbiotic community building we can only dream of offering ourselves. Sisters forever! Can’t wait to host you at our newly improved home sometime this year – stay tuned this week as we push to get our doors open by mid-March…xoxo

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As for the award timeline, the James Beard Foundation drops its list of finalists on March 27. On May 6, it announces the restaurant and chef winners at The James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago. Media awards winners will be announced the week before, on April 26.

The James Beard Foundation selects nominees through the careful review and selection as completed by 19 food experts and industry leaders. For this year, the foundation expanded the committee in an attempt to ensure greater diversity of both decision makers and award winners.

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