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 jamesbeard.org/awards
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.