Sherry Pocknett became the first Indigenous woman to win a James Beard Award, triumphing in the Best Chef: Northeast category. Pocknett is from Sly Fox Den Too, a restaurant in Charlestown, Rhode Island, specializing in Native American cuisine.
Pocknett wore traditional Native American attire as she accepted her trophy onstage.
“I have cancer," she said in her speech, fighting back tears. "I’m sure I'm not the only one in the room that does, but I’m almost through it. This honor is just unbelievable. Something that I never even dreamed of. Thank you."
Natalia Vallejo from the restaurant Cocina al Fondo in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also made James Beard Awards history with her win for Outstanding Chef: South. Her win clinched the first James Beard Award for Puerto Rico.