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James Beard Award semifinalists revealed

The James Beard Foundation released Tuesday the list of 424 semifinalists for its prestigious annual restaurant and chef awards, assembled from more than 57,000 online entries — more than double the 28,000 submissions received last year.

Slightly more than half of this year’s semifinalists appeared on last year’s list, with the exception of those nominated for the Best New Restaurant category, which features only new entries, and the new category of Outstanding Bar Program.

See the full list

Among those new to the list are some more casual restaurants like Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, a semifinalist for the national award of outstanding restaurant; and Roberta’s in Brooklyn, N.Y., whose chef de cuisine, Max Sussman, is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the year. The Rising Star is awarded to a chef 30-years old or younger.

Roberta’s has been popular among food writers in recent years. Its founder, Carlo Mirarchi, was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 10 “Best New Chefs” last year.

Danny Bowien, chef of the popular-but-casual San Francisco restaurant, Mission Chinese Food, also is on the Rising Star List. So is Kris Yenbamroon, chef of Night + Market, a casual place adjacent the well-established, upscale Thai restaurant, Talésai, in West Hollywood, Calif.

Some communities that rarely are heard from made this year’s list, including Grand Rapids, Mich. Chef Matthew Millar of Reserve restaurant in Grand Rapids is a semifinalist for best chef in the Great Lakes region. In Rapid City, S.D., The Corn Exchange’s chef M.J. Adams is up for best chef in the Midwest. Jeff Keys of Vintage Restaurant in Ketchum, Idaho, is a contender for best chef in the Northwest, a category typically dominated by Portland and Seattle.

The big cities, for the most part, fared as well as they did last year, although San Francisco has just two semifinalists in the Best New Restaurant category, down from four last year.

The entries were tabulated by independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr for the Beard Foundation’s restaurant and chef committee, and screened to ensure the nominees met the eligibility requirement for each award.

This is the fourth year the Beard Foundation has released this long list of possible award winners, after it was leaked in 2008. The list will be winnowed by more than 550 judges, comprising food writers, editors and educators, as well as previous winners, who will cast their votes in the coming weeks.

The finalists will be named at The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas on March 19.

After another round of voting by the same judges, the winners of the awards will be presented on May 7 during a gala ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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