We love a good comeback story here in Alabama.
Truth be told, Chef Adam Evans has had success wherever he’s been. But after spending time in the high-profile kitchens of Atlanta, New Orleans, and New York, he did come back to his native Alabama. And now his star is shining brighter than ever.
Chef Evans, who was raised in Muscle Shoals and graduated from Auburn University, recently relocated to Birmingham and opened his first restaurant, Automatic Seafood & Oysters, alongside his wife and co-owner, Suzanne Humphries Evans. And even though they only opened their doors in April of 2019, they’re already one of the hottest restaurants in the South.
Esquire named Automatic Seafood & Oysters one of their Best New Restaurants in America last year. So did Thrillist. And while Southern Living is limited by state lines, Automatic made it on their list of The South’s Best New Restaurants as well.
But the icing on the cake, of course, was a nomination by the James Beard Foundation.
The James Beard Awards are widely considered “the Oscars of food,” which puts Automatic Seafood & Oysters in rare company. Chef Evans and company are one of 10 names on this year’s list of finalists for Best New Restaurant. Automatic is one of only two nominees from the South, alongside Gianna in New Orleans.
The Evans family will get a few months to enjoy this honor, as the James Beard Awards, originally scheduled for early May, have been postponed until September 25.
Alabama is no stranger to the lists of finalists and semifinalists at the James Beard Awards, though. This year also included three semifinalists in the Best Chef in the South category: Chef Bill Briand of Fisher’s in Orange Beach, Chef Timothy Hontzas of Johnny’s Restaurant in Birmingham, and Chef Duane Nutter of Southern National in Mobile. And of course, Chef Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham walked away with the Beard Foundation’s top prize in 2018, Most Outstanding Restaurant in America.
It’s always a thrill to see Alabama chefs in the brightest spotlights—especially chefs like Adam Evans who are friends of Alabama Gulf Seafood. In case we forgot to mention it, you can find all kinds of fresh Alabama and Gulf product on Automatic’s rotating menu, and we’d recommend…well, just about everything, really.
Best of luck to Adam and Suzanne in September! We’ll be raising our forks in celebration.
Want to learn more about Chef Evans and his culinary process? Check out our Chef of the Month profile from earlier this year.