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Local restaurants and chefs excluded from list of Beard Awards finalists

Written By Scott Joseph On March 27, 2019

Beard announcement

The finalists for the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards were announced Wednesday morning at an event in Houston. Unfortunately, Central Florida’s record of never having a semifinalist advance to the final ballot remains intact.

Central Florida restaurants and chefs were nominated in four categories this year, all national: Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton was nominated for Outstanding Restaurant; Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa was on the long list for Outstanding Service; Rabii Saber of the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef; and James and Julie Petrakis were co-nominees as Outstanding Restaurateur.

The Petrakises have been nominated multiple times previously in the Best Chef: South category. For the past two years, no local chefs were singled out in the category, even as a semifinalist.

One interesting note in the Outstanding Restaurant category: Jaleo in Washington, D.C., is a finalist. The José Andrés helmed ThinkFoodGroup opened its fifth Jaleo, the group’s largest, at Disney Springs last week. With five locations, Jaleo can be considered a chain, so it’s worth noting that the Beard judges are willing to include a chain restaurant as one of the country’s best.

Jaleo’s fellow nominees are: Balthazar, New York; FIG. Charleston; Quince, San Francisco; and Zahav, Philadelphia. (FIG and Quince should team up against the others.)

In the Best Chef: South category that has proved so elusive for Central Florida’s deserving chefs, the finalists are: Wishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, Miss.; Jose Enrique, Jose Enrique, San Juan, P.R.; Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette, New Orleans; Slade Rushing, Brennan’s, New Orleans; and Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans.

The 2019 James Beard Awards Gala will be held in Chicago on Monday, May 6.

Here’s a link to the full list of award finalists.

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