Atlanta gets all kind of McLovin’ from the James Beard Foundation today. From the nods for best chef and restaurateur nationally to the expected Southeastern chef awards, our city looks like more of a player this year than in awards seasons past.
The semifinalists comprise 20 nominees in each of 19 categories from more than 15,000 entries. The James Beard Awards are the most hyped and among the most prestigious prizes given to American chefs and restaurateurs. (The foundation also grants awards to cookbooks, restaurant designers and media, but these do not have a semifinalist stage in the process.)
And here’s where the full disclosure comes: I am one of the 400-some judges, so my vote had some bearing on the results announced today.
I can also say that in years past, this list was called merely “the second round of voting” and wasn’t promoted. But lately the list has gotten out and morphed into this pre-pre-award. The five finalists will be announced on March 23, and the winners at a gala awards ceremony on May 4.
Without further ado, raise a glass of champagne or Belgian ale to these semifinalists:
Outstanding Restaurateur: Pano Karatassos, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group
Outstanding Chef (National): Scott Peacock, Watershed, Decatur and Anne Quatrano, Bacchanalia
Outstanding Restaurant: Bacchanalia
Best New Restaurant: Holeman and Finch Public House
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Kevin Gillespie, Woodfire Grill
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Aaron Russell, The Chocolate Bar, Decatur
Outstanding Service: The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead
Best Chef, Southeast: Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens; Arnaud Berthelier, The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead; Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene; Hector Santiago, Pura Vida.