The James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists in its 2010 restaurant and chef awards categories, and they include a number of familiar Twin Cities names. (All photos Star Tribune file images).
This year's Best Chef: Midwest category is headlined by a pair of past nominees:
The first is three-time nominee Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma (nominated in 2007, 2008 and 2009).
The second is two-time nominee Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery (nominated in 2008 and 2009).
The Best Chef: Midwest category includes five other Minnesotans:
Vincent Francoual of Vincent.
Hakan Lundberg of Cosmos.
Mike Phillips of Craftsman.
Lenny Russo of Heartland.
And Stewart Woodman of Heidi's.
Minnesota semifinalists in national categories include:
In Outstanding Restaurateur: Brothers Richard D'Amico (pictured, left) and Larry D'Amico of D'Amico & Partners (D'Amico Kitchen, Masa, Cafe Lurcat and Bar Lurcat, Campiello, D'Amico & Sons).
In Best New Restaurant: Bar La Grassa.
In Rising Star Chef of the Year (chefs age 30 and younger): Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge.
In Outstanding Pastry Chef: Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart.
In Outstanding Wine Service: La Belle Vie. Chef Tim McKee is last year's Best Chef: Midwest winner, the first Minnesota chef to be so honored.
And, as previously announced, Wayne Kostroski, co-owner of Cuisine Concepts (Franklin Street Bakery and Bar Abilene) has been named the James Beard Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year for his work as the founder of Taste of the NFL.
Chipotle Mexican Grill fans, take note: Founder/owner Steve Ells is also on the Outstanding Restaurateur list.
Unlike the Oscars -- to which they are constantly compared -- the Beards are a three-step process, involving semi-finalists, nominees and winners. Here's how it works: In the first round of judging, the foundation selects 20 semifinalists in 19 categories. Judges (roughly 700 critics, journalists, food professionals and past chef winners) vote for up to five names in each of the nine national and 10 regional categories. The top five vote-getters advance to the nomination stage, a second round of voting commences and the top vote-getter among the five nominees is declared the winner at the foundation's annual gala.
Restaurant and chef nominees are announced on March 22nd at a breakfast in New Orleans, along with nominees in the foundation's cookbook, design and journalism categories. The gala awards ceremony is scheduled for May 3 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Find the complete list of semifinalists here.
Congratulations to all semifinalists. Who will advance and become a nominee? Who is missing? Who will win in May? Chime in below in the comments section.