This weekend’s 87th-annual Academy Awards crowns Hollywood’s endless so-called awards season, but in the food world, the accolades are just beginning. On Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation kicked off its 2015 awards by announcing semifinalists in categories honoring restaurants, bars, chefs, restaurateurs, pastry chefs, bakers, and wine, beer and spirits professionals.

Spoon and Stable is up for Best New Restaurant.

La Belle Vie is in the running for Outstanding Restaurant.

Restaurant Alma  is on the Outstanding Service list.

Kim Bartmann, owner of Barbette, Bryant-Lake Bowl and six other Minneapolis restaurants, is one of 20 candidates for Outstanding Restaurateur.

The foundation is debuting a new awards category in 2015: Outstanding Baker, honoring the creative forces behind retail bakeries. Two Minneapolis bakers are in the running: John Kraus of Patisserie 46 and Steve Horton of Rustica.

Eric Seed, owner of importer Haus Alpenz in Edina (www.alpenz.com), made the cut in Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.

Nine Twin Citians occupy seven berths in the Best Chef: Midwest category, which honors chefs who “set new or consistent standards of excellence” in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. (The Beards split the country into 10 regions and bestows a Best Chef award in each of them.)

Local semifinalists include Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer, James Winberg, Bob Gerken and Mike Brown of Travail Kitchen and Amusements, Jim Christiansen of Heyday, Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart, Russell Klein of Meritage and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant.

Find the complete list of semifinalists here.

The Beards, named for author and culinarian James Beard, began in 1990 and are frequently shorthanded to the “Oscars of the food world.”

Semifinalists are the first step in the Beard awards process. On March 24, following a round of balloting (voters including critics, food writers and past chef winners), the foundation will announce nominees (that’s Beard-speak for “finalists,” which translates into the top five vote-getters among semifinalists) in the restaurant and chef categories, along with nominees in the Beard’s cookbook, design and journalism divisions.

A second round of voting follows, and winners in the restaurant and chef categories will be presented their medalions at a gala ceremony on May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the first time in the awards’ 25-year history that the event has taken place outside New York City.   
 

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