The 2015 James Beard Award (www.jamesbeard.org) semifinalists were announced in February, and New Orleans did (predictably) well in the judging, including five of the 20 chefs in the Best Chef: South category, as well as several other nominations. Last week the finalists were announced, winnowing the list even further.
Three of the five finalists in Best Chef: South are from New Orleans, all of whom are established chefs working on new projects: Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery (4238 Magazine St., 504-891-3377; www.lapetitegrocery.com) and the newly opened Balise (640 Carondelet St., 504-459-4449; www.balisenola.com); Slade Rushing of the revived and revitalized Brennan's (417 Royal St., 504-525-9711; www.brennansneworleans.com); and Alon Shaya (see "3-Course Interview," p. 95) of Domenica (123 Baronne St., 504-648-6020; www.domenicarestaurant.com), Pizza Domenica (4933 Magazine St., 504-301-4978; www.pizzadomenica.com) and the packed-every-night new restaurant Shaya (4213 Magazine St., 504-891-4213; www.shayarestaurant.com). They will compete against Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi and Jose Enrique of Jose Enrique in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
New Orleans scored one finalist apiece in four other categories:
• Outstanding Chef: Donald Link, Herbsaint (701 St. Charles Ave., 504-524-4114; www.herbsaint.com)
• Outstanding Restaurateur: JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline (1413 Upperline St., 504-891-9822; www.upperline.com)
•Outstanding Bar Program: Arnaud's French 75 (813 Bienville St., 504-523-5433; www.arnaudsrestaurant.com)
• Outstanding Service: Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-299-9777; www.restaurantaugust.com)
Local writer Brett Martin (Difficult Men) was nominated in the Beard journalism category of Dining and Travel for "How the Vikings Conquered Dinner," published in GQ.
The annual James Beard Award gala, where the winners will be revealed, will be held May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.