First Indigenous Woman Wins James Beard Award

First Indigenous Woman Wins James Beard Award

The long-awaited 2023 James Beard Award took place on June 5th

The ceremony honors for American hospitality by celebrating a wide pool of diverse and skilled chefs, beverage directors, restaurateurs, and other talented people from across the US.

These awards are equivalent to the Oscars of the culinary world and are widely deemed prestigious. So you can imagine the delight when Sherry Pocknett, an Indigenous female chef, bagged the Best Chef award. The win marked the first of its kind and was fantastic news for the entire Native American community. Sherry triumphed over 20 semifinalists and attended the Lyric Opera of Chicago ceremony in traditional indigenous dressing.

Sherry is from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and opened a restaurant in the name of her later father, Sly Fox Den. Sherry opened another branch of the restaurant in Charlestown, Rhode Island, called Sly Fox Den Too. Her menu includes Native American food, such as scrumptious clambakes and corncakes. She offers custom catering services at Sly Fox Den, which is more than just a restaurant and bar; it is also a cultural hub that educates the general public regarding Native American food, history, and culture.

So, if you are ever in town, make sure to pay these restaurants a visit and support Sherry’s journey.

Her extended family also established an eatery called the Flume, and she also formerly worked as a food and beverage director at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

Pocknett is currently battling cancer, and we pray she beats it! This made her presence at the Awards ceremony all the more special. She expressed how this win was a dream come true for her, something so unbelievable. She also explained how her love for cooking and sharing delicacies with others had been there since childhood when she used to play with her Easy Bake Oven. “As a kid, I used to help my mom a lot in the kitchen,” she said. “We were also self-sufficient and harvested food by ourselves.”

The James Beard Foundation’s core objective is to support, celebrate, and encourage people to pursue their culinary dreams and perfect a standard of excellent food anchored in equity, talent, and sustainability.

The awards honor exceptional food media and culinary talent and show dedication to gender and racial equality, culture, sustainability, and community. The Foundation announced the list of semifinalists in January of 2023, including dozens of restaurants and chefs in 23 categories across the United States.

Nominees in the regional and national categories were further categorized into groups such as mom-and-pop, newcomers, and fine dining. Another category was recently added called outstanding bakery. The list of finalists was revealed on March 29th, 2023.

Image courtesy of Sly Fox Den Resturant




About Paul G

Paul G is the founder, who wears many hats as a business coach, photographer, and collector of quirky shirts. Paul started in 1996 while pursuing his graduate degree. With a passion for travel, he and his family hav  traveled the world, capturing unforgettable memories and photos. When he's not coaching or clicking, he's indulging in the magic of Disney.

One Comment “First Indigenous Woman Wins James Beard Award”

  • Avatar for Kvlane Liz Wesley

    Kvlane Liz Wesley


    That’s amazing ..proud of her,
    Mvto to her much respect to her…

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