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Vida’s Executive Chef Thomas Melvin Announced as Semifinalist in 2024 James Beard Awards Best Chef in The Great Lakes Region

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Press Release

Vida's Executive Chef, Thomas Melvin, was announced on January 24, 2024, as a semifinalist in the 2024 James Beard Awards Best Chef category for the Great Lakes region. Established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991, the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards are one of five separate recognition programs of the James Beard Awards. The awards recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

Chef Thomas Melvin has put Vida “at the forefront of Indy's dining experience, creating an expression of culinary excellence with worldly influence.” (

Chef Thomas began his career working in local Indianapolis-area restaurants. He gained experience at the Country Club of Indianapolis, Canterbury Hotel, Mo’s a Place for Steaks, and Prime 47. During his tenure at Prime 47, he was named corporate executive chef, which allowed Chef Thomas to mentor chefs over five locations in Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

He joined Cunningham Restaurant Group in 2014 as Executive Chef of Union 50, where his creative voice started to emerge. Under Chef Thomas’ direction, Union 50 was named on Open Table’s list of 100 Hottest Restaurants in America for two consecutive years.

In 2017, Chef Thomas transitioned to Executive Chef at Vida where his culinary artistry and respect for the craft have maintained AAA’s 4-Diamond Award every year since. In 2022, Chef Thomas earned a Semi-Finalist nomination for the Great Lakes Region from the James Beard Foundation.

Vida is consistently named among the top places to eat in Indianapolis. When named among the Top 100 Best Places to Eat in the U.S. in 2023, Yelp said, "Vida puts just as much thought into design and dining experience as its James Beard-nominated executive chef, Thomas Melvin, does into flavors and plating… Dishes change frequently according to what’s on offer from local farms, but the commitment to freshness doesn’t stop—standouts such as beef tartare and ribeye are often adorned with homegrown herbs and greens plucked straight from the kitchen’s hydroponic grow wall. To indulge in the best of what the night has to offer, many reviewers recommend opting for the ‘thoughtfully curated’ chef ’s-choice tasting menu."

Winners will be announced at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Congratulations to Chef Thomas!

Make a reservation to indulge and enjoy our creatively curated menus crafted by our award-winning Chef Thomas Melvin.

 See the James Beard Semifinalists