Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beard award nominations: Oh, the suspense

The James Beard Awards announced its nominees in chef-etc. categories today with several Carolinas chefs highlighted, as usual, and not a soul from Charlotte, also as usual.

In the running for Outstanding Chef (in a field of 20) is Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's in Charleston. For Rising Star (with 25 in the group), there's 

Katie Button of Cúrate in Asheville. 

For Outstanding Pastry Chef: Phoebe Lawless of Durham's Scratch. For Outstanding Restaurant: Fearrington House in Pittsboro. For Outstanding Restaurateur: Giorgios Bakatsias of Giorgios Hospitality Group in Durham (with Kipos, Parizäde, Village Burgers, and more; his Georges Brasserie in Charlotte isn't mentioned, but I suppose we could insist on claiming him).

For Outstanding Service: McCrady's; for wine program, Charleston's FIG

And then amid the 20-chef Southeast field are Jeremiah Bacon of The MacintoshKevin Johnson of The Grocery and Josh Keeler of Two Boroughs Larder, all in Charleston; Colin Bedford of The Fearrington House; Ashley Christensen of Poole's Downtown Diner in Raleigh;  Scott Crawford of Herons at the Umstead in Cary; Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston; Scott Howell of Nana's and Matt Kelly of Mateo in Durham; Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville; and Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough.

Anyone could nominate chefs online; a Beard committee then chooses each year the nominees for each award. That list then goes to "an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges from across the country ... (which) comprises leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners." That group votes in specific  categories to pick five finalists in each category. The same judges then choose the winners. 

Each category's five finalists will be announced March 18, with winners revealed in May.