19 New Orleans chefs, restaurants named James Beard Award semifinalists

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Semifinalists for the prestigious James Beard Foundation's 2017 awards were announced Wednesday (Feb. 15), including 19 chefs and restaurants from New Orleans. - COURTESY JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION/FACEBOOK
  • COURTESY JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION/FACEBOOK
  • Semifinalists for the prestigious James Beard Foundation's 2017 awards were announced Wednesday (Feb. 15), including 19 chefs and restaurants from New Orleans.

New Orleans chefs and restaurants were heavily represented on the James Beard Foundation’s newly released list of 2017 awards semifinalists. The prestigious foundation released the lengthy list of culinary stars vying for the coveted awards Wednesday (Feb. 15).

Judges culled the list from 24,000 online entries, whittling it down to semifinalists in 21 categories, including 19 local nominees.

In the running for Best Chef: South are Compere Lapin’s Nina Compton, MoPho and Maypop’s Michael Gulotta, Brennan’s Slade Rushing, Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and Toups South, Herbsaint’s Rebecca Wilcomb and both Michael Stoltzfus and Kristen Essig of Coquette.

Irish Channel sandwich star Turkey & The Wolf is the only New Orleans restaurant named a semifinalist for the foundation’s coveted Best New Restaurant award, a big feat for the casual newcomer led by Mason Hereford and Lauren Holton, whose whimsical sandwich creations have garnered widespread accolades from critics (including this one).

Last year’s big wins went to La Petite Grocery and Balise’s Justin Devillier for Best Chef: South and to Alon Shaya, whose eponymous Israeli restaurant was named the country’s Best New Restaurant.

Both Arnaud’s French 75 Bar and Cure are semifinalists in the Outstanding Bar Program category, Donald Link is up for an Outstanding Chef award and Kelly Fields of Willa Jean is in the running for the Outstanding Pastry Chef award (not to be confused with the Outstanding Baker award, for which New Orleans had no semifinalists).

Upperline’s JoAnn Clevenger is nominated for the Outstanding Restaurateur award and both Brigtsen’s and Galatoire’s are in the running for the Outstanding Service title. Semifinalists in the Outstanding Wine Program include Emeril’s and Bywater wine hub Bacchanal.

Zachary Engel of Shaya and Martha Wiggins of Sylvain are both nominated for the foundation’s Rising Chef of the Year award.

As is tradition, the foundation announces the semifinalists in advance of the final nominees, which will be made public on March 15. The winners will be announced May 1 at the 27th annual James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago.


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