It’s time once again to reveal the long list of semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Each year, the foundation honors the best chefs and restaurants across America, and this year’s roster of semifinalists includes no fewer than 15 names representing Atlanta (and Athens). They are as follows:
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.
- Sarah O’Brien, Little Tart Bakeshop
Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.
A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.
- Five & Ten (Athens)
A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.
Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.
Rising Star of the Year
A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
- Brian So, Spring
Best Chef: Southeast
Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.
- Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale
- Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
- Ri Liu, Masterpiece
- Steven Satterfield, Miller Union
- Ryan Smith, Staplehouse
This list will be whittled down to final nominees on Wednesday, March 15. Winners will be announced at the 2017 James Beard Awards Gala, to be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 1. Last year, Atlanta had three nominees in the final running for medals: Gunshow’s Kevin Gillespie and Miller Union’s Steven Satterfield for Best Chef: Southeast and Staplehouse for Best New Restaurant. Sadly, all went home empty-handed.