The James Beard Foundation has just released the semifinalists for its annual awards ceremony, and South Florida made the grade on several fronts. The category calls for "chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions".
Justin Severino of Lawrenceville's Cure and Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill are semifinalists for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Wisconsin natives listed in other categories include Phillip Foss of EL Ideas in Chicago, for best chef: Great Lakes, and Alex Seidel, a semifinalist for best chef: Southwest, this time for his second restaurant, Mercantile, in Denver.
Charleston was recognized for the work of Chef Cindy Wolf and nominated for its wine program, which is a national award that Charleston has been recognized for in the past.
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Des Moines restaurateur Jason Simon earned a "Best Chef: Midwest" nomination in 2011.
Also, one Milwaukee restaurant is one of the semifinalists for the Outstanding Restaurateurs award.
On Wednesday, March 15, the Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press conference at a.o.c. restaurant in Los Angeles, California.
The Beard Awards are the culinary world's equivalent of the Oscars, and winning an award - or even being nominated - can mean more customers for a restaurant and an upward trajectory for a chef. The announcements are broadcast online via the Foundation's Facebook Live feed. They are Brian Hill of Francine in Camden, who has now made the list eight times; Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Eventide Oyster, who are semifinalists for a third time; Ravin Nakjaroen of Long Grain in Camden, who made the list twice before; and Keiko Suzuki of Suzuki's Sushi Bar in Rockland, who was also nominated previous year.