The James Beard Foundation today distributed its preliminary ballot for its 2009 restaurant and chef awards. The preliminary ballot, which goes out to all judges, contains as many as 20 names in each of the categories. Judges select up to five names in each category; the top vote-getters will be on the final ballot. Winners will be announced in a black-tie ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in May.
Now, because I am a judge, it would be wrong for me to disclose the list. However, some scalawag at the SeattlePI has published it, so I can’t stop you from looking at it. Of local note: Victoria & Albert’s chef Scott Hunnel for Outstanding Chef for the South region; and California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for Outstanding Wine Service.
Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa is on the list for Outstanding Restaurant. I wonder if whoever nominated it has been there lately.