From Bret Thorn, Nation's Restaurant News (www.nrn.com): NEW YORK - The James Beard Foundation has announced the 397 semifinalists in its chef and restaurant awards, which go to restaurants, chefs, restaurateurs and wine and spirits professionals across the country. (Go to http://www.jamesbeard.org for the complete list.) This is the second year the James Beard Foundation has published the names of the semifinalists for its awards. The organization began the practice after the 2008 list was leaked. The semifinalists will be voted on by a number of regional panels of past winners, food writers and other experts. That round of voting will end on March 8, and the finalists for the prestigious awards will be announced on March 22 at Dickie Brennan's Palace Cafe in New Orleans. Then, after another round of voting, the winners will be announced May 3 at a gala celebration at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Just over half of this year's semifinalists were also semi-finalists last year, not including the nominees for best new restaurant, which are all new.
Notable newcomers to the list of outstanding restaurateurs are Bruce and Eric Bromberg of Blue Ribbon Restaurants in New York, Michael Dellar of Lark Creek Restaurants in San Francisco, Steve Ells of Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Chicago restaurateur Donald Madia, who is business partner of chef Paul Kahan.
Fourteen out of the 20 chefs on last year's long list of outstanding chefs are back. The newcomers are themselves restaurant veterans: Gary Danko in San Francisco, Robert Del Grande in Houston, Mark Peel in Los Angeles, Julian Serrano in Las Vegas, Michael Smith in Kansas City, Mo., and Jerry Traunfeld in Seattle.
Since 1995, "Where The Locals Eat" and LocalEats dining guides have featured locally owned restaurants across America. From the finest steakhouses and sushi bars, to classic burger joints and roadside barbecues, LocalEats recommends unique restaurants to suit every taste and price range. More