The first-round ballot for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards was released Wednesday and features three — actually four — Central Florida chefs for the Best Chef: South category.
Nominees include Kathleen Blake, the Rusty Spoon; Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s; and James and Julie Petrakis, the Ravenous Pig. All have been nominated previously, and, as before, the Petrakises are nominated as a pair. Hunnel has been nominated for the award more than any other area chef. None has ever advanced to the final ballot.
Other Florida nominees include Greg Baker, the Refinery, Tampa; Deme Lomas, Niu Kitchen, Miami; José Mendín, Pubbelly, Miami Beach; Michael Pirolo, Macchialina, Miami Beach; and Giorgio Rapicavoli, Eating House, Coral Gables. They will be competing with chefs from Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Puerto Rico; and Louisiana, specifically, New Orleans, which has dominated the awards in the past.
Other Florida nominees: Alter in Miami is among the nominees for Best New Restaurant; Antonio Bachour of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef; Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa for Outstanding Wine Program.
The ballots were submitted to judges on Wednesday and they have until March 7 to vote for up to five nominees in each category. The top five vote-getters will advance to the final ballot, which will be announced March 15. The winners will be announced at a gala event in Chicago on May 2.