Danville native nominated for Best Chef award

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, February 7, 2023



Danville native and chef at the Spark Community Cafe in Versailles Isaiah Screetch has been nominated as one of 20 semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Best Chef in the Southeast Region Award.

Email newsletter signup

“I’m ecstatic, everyday I go home I’m talking to a reporter or news team about it,” Screetch said. “I was talking to someone from KET the other day and she said I think that I’m just as good as anyone I’m going up against. I definitely do but for something so prestigious, I never thought I would get such recognition with me being in a small town. I’m nervous, I don’t know what I will do if on March 29 they announce that I’m a finalist. I don’t know how I will react. I would love to be the winner but I would be super excited to just be a finalist.”

Screetch has worked in the restaurant industry since he graduated from Danville High School in 2003.

“My first job was at Applebee’s in Danville as a grill cook,” Screetch said. “From there I moved to Lexington and have been cooking ever since. I never thought I would get this far. When I worked at Applebee’s I didn’t even know this award existed. We are going to do a recognition here with Sam Fore, another semi-finalist from Lexington in the future. It will be small plates with sampling of both of our dishes.”

Spark Community Cafe is a pay-what-you-can non-profit restaurant that strives to provide farm to table meals for those struggling with food insecurity. Since 2019, the cafe has served over 50,000 meals, given more than $47,000 back to local farmers, and its operation has required more 12,000 volunteer hours.

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization that holds annual awards for achievement in culinary arts, hospitality, and media throughout the United States. Screetch was nominated for the award by the Spark Community Cafe board.

More information on Spark Community Cafe can be found at https://www.restaurantji.com/ky/versailles/spark-community-caf-/