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Triangle restaurants, chefs named as James Beard semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation's list of restaurant and chef award semifinalists was just released and there was a strong showing from the Triangle and the entire state.

  • Durham's Mateo Tapas is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.
  • Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham is a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
  • Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. (Owner and chef Andrea Reusing won a James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast in 2011.)
  • Angus Barn in Raleigh is a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Program.
  • Sean Lilly Wilson of Durham's Fullsteam brewery and Eric Solomon of European Cellars in Charlotte are semifinalists for outstanding wine, spirits or beer professional.
  • Katie Button of Curate in Asheville is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
  • The semifinalists for Best Chef Southeast are Ashley Christensen of Raleigh's Poole's Diner among other restaurants; Scott Crawford of Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary; Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston; Scott Howell of Nana's in Durham, Elliot Moss of The Admiral in Asheville; and Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough.

To see the list of all the semifinalist nominees, go to

The semifinalist nominees will be narrowed to finalists and those will be announced March 18 at a press conference in Charleston, S.C. The winner will be announced May 6 at a gala reception in New York City.

This how the awards work: The foundation puts out a call for nominations in the fall and this year more than 44,000 entries were received. A committee narrows the entrees to a list of semifinalists in each category. Then more than 600 judges across the country -- regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners -- vote for the five finalists and then choose a winner in each category.

The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit that recognizes excellence in the culinary field from chefs and restaurants to journalists and cookbook authors. James Beard was a television personality and food writer who championed regional American cuisine. The foundation was created by his friends after his death in 1985.

Be sure to pick up Sunday's paper

to read my profile of Phoebe Lawless, owner of Scratch in Durham.

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