Birmingham’s Highlands Bar & Grill Brings Home Top James Beard Honors

If patience is a virtue, then Frank and Pardis Stitt should be considered the virtuosos of the American culinary world.

After being nominated nine straight times for the James Beard Foundation Award for Most Outstanding Restaurant—and coming up short each time—Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham finally brought home the bacon on Monday, May 7.

This is no run-of-the-mill recognition for Chef Stitt’s flagship restaurant, though. For those who aren’t familiar, the James Beard Awards are to American food what the Oscars are to film and the Grammys are to music. In other words, it’s a big deal.

“After receiving the Beard Award for Most Outstanding Restaurant in America, we knew we would have to work harder to meet expectations,” Chef Stitt said. “Pardis and I strive to make our restaurants about quality of ingredients, sincerity of purpose and a love of sharing a great restaurant experience—we want to always learn more and share this knowledge with our staff and guests.”

It’s a big deal for us here at Alabama Gulf Seafood, too.

Chef Stitt isn’t just a cook or a restaurateur here in Alabama—he’s a celebrity. The Cullman native, who won the Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2001, has built a small culinary empire here in the South by combining his love of traditional French cuisine with the local ingredients from his home region.

And that includes plenty of Alabama Gulf Seafood.

Between the menus at Highlands and Stitt’s other Birmingham restaurants—Chez Fonfon, Bottega, and Bottega Café—you’ll find plenty of Alabama Seafood dishes like Red Snapper Ceviche, Gulf Shrimp Cocktail, Mixed Seafood Fry, Crispy Redfish with Yellow Grits, Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Crabcakes, Cobia, Oysters…well, you get the idea.

Chef Stitt was even kind enough to lend us one of his recipes for our website, if you’d like to try your hand at Frank Stitt’s Pickled Shrimp in your own kitchen. (Just make sure you’re using Gulf Shrimp, of course!)

“Alabama Gulf seafood is one of the pillars of our success,” Chef Stitt said. “From the beginning, I wanted to source the freshest, finest and diverse Gulf fish and seafood—in fact we started out as Highlands Oyster Bar and Grill. To me, the mark of a great restaurant is its commitment to the freshest fish—from Pompano, Speckled Trout, Mackerel, and Triggerfish to the greatest Shrimp, Oysters and Crab. I love sharing pristine Gulf seafood. It has helped make us the success we are.”

Frank & Pardis Stitt have been champions of the farm-to-table movement for many years, and their efforts to champion fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood have provided immeasurable value for our mission. So now that these dear friends of ours are finally enjoying life in the winner’s circle, we raise a glass to their success. Cheers!