– First on SJO –
Update: Tickets are now available through Visit Orlando.
The James Beard Foundation will announce the semifinalists for its prestigious culinary awards at a press conference in Orlando on February 19th. The press conference will be held at East End Market and will be streamed live over the Internet.
The nomination ceremony will follow a special dinner, on February 18th, prepared by all of Central Florida’s previous Beard nominees.
Participating in the dinner will be:
- Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s
- Kevin Fonzo, K restaurant
- James and Julie Petrakis, Ravenous Pig
- Hari Pulapaka, Cress
- Kathleen Blake, Rusty Spoon
- Brandon McGlamery, Luma on Park
- Henry Salgado, Spanish River Seafood Grill
Norman Van Aken will be the dinner’s special guest and master of ceremonies. Van Aken, whose Norman’s restaurant is at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, is a past Beard Award winner, however he won the award for Best Chef South Region for his now-closed Norman’s in Coral Gables.
through the Beard Foundation beginning Dec. 20 (watch for details). An after-dinner party in the hotel’s boardroom with the chefs is $75 per person.The dinner will be at the Alfond Inn at Rollins College in Winter Park. Tickets for the dinner are $200 per person and available
Nominations for Beard awards are made by regional judges, many of whom are restaurant critics and food journalists. The awards panel considers the recommendations and compiles a preliminary ballot with as many as 20 semifinalists in each category. From the long list, the judges choose up to five names. The top five vote-getters go to the final ballot. Winners will be announced at a black tie ceremony in May at New York’s Lincoln Center.
Although Central Florida has had chefs on the semifinals list, none have advanced to the finals. Hunnel has been nominated the most times.
The selection of Orlando as the location to announce the nominations is significant. It’s an acknowledgement that the region is finally being recognized as having a vibrant and creative culinary community beyond theme park fare and the chain restaurants that serve the nearly 60 million visitors each year.
The announcement of the JBF Award nominations is eagerly anticipated among the country’s culinary elite. The February 19 press conference is sure to have a large audience.