Dayton brewery chef reflects on being recognized by James Beard Foundation

Credit: Sarah Blankemeyer

Credit: Sarah Blankemeyer

Executive Chef Becky Clark of Little Fish Brewing Co. was among the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards Semifinalists for the Greater Lakes Region. Although she did not advance to the next round, Clark said she was honored to be noticed.

“My team and I work really hard to create nourishing, creative and seasonal dishes that we are proud to share with our little communities,” Clark said. “I didn’t expect to attract much attention outside of Southeast Ohio and Dayton, so I’m especially honored that we were noticed and that our food was appreciated by the JBF.”

Clark was one of 20 semifinalists for the Great Lakes Region which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The nominees for the award included two chefs from Chicago and three from Detroit.

Clark noted the nomination process felt more like a creation of a cohort versus a competition.

“This nomination gifted me new restaurants to visit when I travel, as well as a larger community of chefs to create and collaborate with,” Clark said.

Clark also recognizes that the JBF, travelers and diners are seeking out unique experiences outside of the major cities.

“Folks are appreciative of and enthusiastic about local agriculture and what chefs are making from it — that’s what it’s all about for us,” she said. “It’s an extraordinary experience to create a meal from things grown and raised within your own community. I love that we have a part in placing that ethos on a larger stage.”

Little Fish Brewing Co. opened in Athens in the summer of 2015. Two years later, co-owners Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White expanded the brewery idea by adding a farm-to-table restaurant, sourcing products directly from area farmers. In Sept. 2022, the company opened Little Fish Dayton Station in a former railroad warehouse in downtown Dayton’s Webster Station Historic District. Guests at the Dayton brewery can expect a small, rotating menu of elevated foods. Clark described it as a scratch kitchen, containing items outside the realm of standard brewery food.

“I never stop learning and teaching, and I love what I do,” Clark said. “I really encourage anyone reading this to go to the farmers market, participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), support locally-owned restaurants and purveyors, take a hike, and eat well. Keep your dollars in your own community, where they will do the most good.”

The Little Fish Dayton Station is located at 116 Webster St. For more information, visit

The James Beard Awards are considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honors that recognize exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability and a culture where all can thrive, a release from the foundation said.

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