We're in the midst of award season. The Academy Awards, the Grammys ... and the Oscars of food: the James Beard awards. The acclaimed James Beard Foundation recently announced its 2016 nominees, and 11 Florida chefs made the short list along with two restaurants.
In the "Best Chef in the South" category were Deme Lomas (Niu Kitchen); Michael Pirolo (Macchialina); Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House) and Jose Medin (Pubbelly) in the Miami area. In Orlando, Scott Hunnell (Victoria & Albert's) at Walt Disney World; Kathleen Blake (The Rusty Spoon); and James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig) all got nods.
Greg Baker (The Refinery) in Tampa was also nominated. “The fresh, local produce, ranging from the usual suspects to semitropical fruits, is inspiration in and of itself, but add to that the abundance and easy access to local seafood and it becomes quite easy to present food that not only tastes good, but creates a real sense of place,” he says.
Additionally, in Tampa, Bern's Steak House nominated for "Outstanding Wine Program."
Other categories included "Best Pastry Chef" with Antonio Bachour (St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort) of Miami Beach making the list and "Rising Star" for chefs under 30 with Bradley Kilgore (Alter) of Miami. Alter was also the only restaurant in the state to be nominated for "Best New Restaurant."
“Professionally this nomination just accredits the hard work of our staff and I have been putting in since before the opening until now," says Kilgore. "It has been, and still is, an amazing ride. Also for me personally to be nominated for "Rising Star" chef in the country is something I have been working towards since I was 16; It's a dream come true to be considered for this. It is a pleasure to be a part of a city that embraces such growth and a group of local chefs supporting each other.”
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.