The James Beard Foundation awards season kicks off with the list of semifinalists for the sought-after chef and restaurant honors.
North Carolina gets a little love on the list, with nominations in Raleigh, Asheville and Durham. And Charlotte. (Well, yes, Davidson, which is certainly Charlotte-area, and Charlotte). We’re not out of the running yet. Joe Kindred of Kindred in Davidson is on the list for Best Chef: Southeast. And Corkbuzz New York, owned by Laura Maniec, is on the list for Outstanding Wine Program. Maniec also owns Corkbuzz near South Park.
Of course, this is “the long list,” the list created from all the nominations received. The next big date to watch is March 14, when the foundation announces the finalist list. But of course, to be on the short list, you have to be on the long list, so that gives Kindred and Maniec a shot.
A few other Carolinas nominations are surprising: The Best Chef: Southeast list also includes Sam Jones of Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville, Cheetie Kumar of Garland in Raleigh, Kevin Johnson of The Grocery in Charleston and (not surprisingly) Vivian Howard of the Chef & The Farmer in Kinston.
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In other Carolinas surprises: Gabe Barker of Pizzeria Mercato in Carrboro is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Leah Wong Ashburn of Highland Brewing Co. in Asheville is on the list for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional, along with Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam in Durham, and Best New Restaurant includes Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh and The Anchorage in Greenville, S.C. Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh is up for the national Outstanding Chef award, and David Bauer of Farm & Sparrow in Asheville is on the list for Outstanding Baker.
For the full semifinalist list, go to www.jamesbeard.org.