James Beard announces semifinalists

Food & Wine debuts People’s Choice award

The James Beard foundation has released its list of 403 semifinalists for its annual chef and restaurant awards. The list was assembled from more than 28,000 entries received since online polling was opened in mid-October.

Meanwhile, Food & Wine magazine has added a People’s Choice category to its annual Best New Chefs awards.

The Best New Chefs honors, which are presented to 10 chefs each year, have helped launch many culinary careers. Past winners include Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio and Grant Achatz.

The new Food & Wine awards category opens up the selection process to members of the general public, who can vote at CNN's food blog, Eatocracy [3], through March 1.

This marks the third year the James Beard Foundation has published its the long list of semifinalists, a practice the foundation began after the 2008 list was leaked by one of the judges.

The foundation judges — about 550 critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard Foundation Award winners — are divided into regional committees and then vote to determine the final five nominees in each category.

The results of that ballot will be announced at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore., on March 21. They also will be broadcast via twitter at twitter.com/beardfoundation.

The Beard judges who vote on the semifinalists then select the winners from among the finalists. Those winners will be announced at a Gala reception at Avery Fisher Hall in New York May 9.

About half of this year’s semifinalists also were semifinalists last year, excluding the Best New Restaurant category, in which all of the semifinalists are new.

Nineteen of the Beard Award semifinalists also appear on Food & Wine’s list of 100 chefs, all nominated by the magazine’s staff — 10 in each of 10 regions in the United States.

For the magazine’s competition, the chef with the most votes in each region will be named a finalist, and from those finalists, the one with the most votes will be named “The People’s Best New Chef.” The winner will be profiled in the July 2011 issue of Food & Wine.
Being included as a nominee for the People’s Choice award does not preclude consideration for a Best New Chef award.

Food & Wine also has set up a Titter hash tag, #peoplesbnc, for news about the new category.

Of the 20 semifinalists competing for the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur award, just six are new this year:

• Tom Baron, Pittsburgh
• Scott Harris, Chicago
• Mike Klank and Eddie Hernandez, Atlanta
• Richard Sandoval, New York
• Phil Suarez, New York
• Bill White in Park City, Utah

All semifinalists operate multiple restaurants.

Nine of the 20 individuals competing for the Outstanding Chefs award are new. They are:

• Ben Barker, Magnolia Grill. Durham, N.C.
• Jose Garces, Amada, Philadelphia
• Melissa Kelly, Primo in Rockland, Maine
• Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
• Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia, Chicago
• Charles Phan, The Slanted Door, San Francisco
• Stephan Pyles, Stephan Pyles, Dallas
• Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, Wash.
• Michael Symon, Lola, Cleveland

A total of 31 chefs are contenders for Rising Star Chef of the Year, which is awarded to someone 30-years old or younger. Eighteen of them are new:

• Andrew Ashmore, The Greene House, Scottsdale, Ariz.
• Sean Baker, Gather, Berkeley, Calif.
• Clayton Chapman, The Grey Plume, Omaha, Neb.
• Sean Ehland, Kaya, Pittsburgh
• Eric Gabrynowicz, Restaurant North, Armonk, N.Y.
• Greg LaPrad, Quiessence, Phoenix
• Aaron London, Ubuntu, Napa, Calif.
• Anthony Martin, Tru, Chicago
• Thomas McNaughton, flour + water, San Francisco
• Paul Qui, Uchiko, Austin, Texas
• Dan Richer, Arturo's, Maplewood, N.J.
• Jesse Schenker, Recette, New York
• Sheldon Simeon, Star Noodle, Lahaina, Hawaii
• Bjorn Somlo, Nudel, Lenox, Mass.
• Nicholas Stefanelli, Bibiana, Washington, D.C.
• Michael Toscano, Manzo, New York
• Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar, New York
• Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Wash.

The full list of semifinalists can be found at http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] [4].