The James Beard Foundation revealed its list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the coveted culinary awards for 2009. Final nominations will be announced March 23. The following D.C.-area chefs, restaurants and restaurateurs were among the semifinalists:
Ashok Bajaj, The Oval Room, The Bombay Club, Ardeo, Bardeo, 701, and Rasika, Washington, D.C.
José Andrés, Minibar, Washington, D.C.
Kinkead’s, Washington, D.C.
Vidalia, Washington, D.C.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Cork, Washington, D.C.
Volt, Frederick, MD
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C.
OUTSTANDING WINE AND SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL
Todd Thrasher, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
Anthony Chittum, Vermilion, Alexandria, VA
Melissa Close, Palladio at Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, VA
Haidar Karoum, Proof, Washington, D.C.
Peter Pastan, Obelisk, Washington, D.C.
Tom Power, Corduroy, Washington, D.C.
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
On the eve of José Andrés being named a semifinalist for the Outstanding Chef James Beard Award for Minibar, Tom Seitsema reported in the Washington Post that expansion plans are under way to take it from mini to mega. Andrés is expected to move Cafe Atlantico to accommodate the expansion, but that probably won’t come to pass before September of next year.
Some big Virginia restaurant openings this week with Eventide, Brabo, and the reopening of Ray’s the Steaks in a bigger space. Eventide’s kitchen is being headed by Miles Vaden, who most recently spent two years as chef de cuisine at Sonoma on Capitol Hill. With Brabo, Chef Robert Wiedmaier attempts to add a third to his growing restaurant empire, which already consisted of Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck. Ray’s has moved to 2300 Wilson Blvd., a move that will allow it more space and an expansion of the menu to include some of the items offered at Ray’s the Classics in Silver Spring.
DCist Eating In blogger Scott Reitz has launched a blog that focuses on testing and creating recipes, found at DistrictPlates.com. There, he offers behind-the-scenes looks at how Farrah Olivia’s Chef Morou builds a better soup and solves the mystery behind getting that brothy filling into the crust of a saltena.
Don’t forget to make reservations for D.C.’s Restaurant Week, which runs from Feb. 16 through Feb. 22, when area restaurants will offer three-course lunches for $20.09 and dinners for $35.09. For a change of scenery, check out Annapolis’ Restaurant Week from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20 for $15.95 three-course lunches and $29.95 dinners.
The Washington, D.C., International Wine & Food Festival takes place this weekend and allows attendees to sample some 600 wines from 150 wineries and view chef demonstrations from the likes of Martin Yan and D.C.’s own Barton Seaver, formerly of Hook.