February is award season. The Academy Awards, the Grammys ... and the Oscars of food: the James Beard Awards. The acclaimed James Beard Foundation has just released its list of 2015 nominees. Brian Whittington from Jacksonville's Restaurant Orsay is among the best chefs in the South and the top 11 in Florida.
Restaurant Orsay is a French bistro in the upscale enclave of Avondale/Riverside, just a few miles from downtown. Since opening in 2008, the restaurant has been recognized by Wine Spectator, Urban Spoon, Florida Trend and the Taste of the NFL.
Based in New York, the James Beard Foundation works to promote the American culinary scene through events, programs and its highly anticipated annual awards. The foundation is housed in Chef James Beard's former Greenwich Village home. Beard, who passed away in 1985, is known as the founder of American cuisine and was the beloved friend to many acclaimed chefs such as Julia Child.
Nine other Florida restaurants made the short list this year. Others in the Best Chef in the South category include Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House) and Jose Medin (Pubbelly) of Miami; Greg Baker (The Refinery) in Tampa; Steve Phelps (Indigenous) in Sarasota; Hari Pulapaka (Cress) in DeLand; Scott Hunnell (Victoria & Albert's) at Walt Disney World; Kathleen Blake (The Rusty Spoon) in Orlando; and James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig) in Winter Park. Additionally, Bern's Steak House in Tampa was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program.
SLIDESHOW: Restaurant Orsay
(All images Courtesy Restaurant Orsay)