Who’s in the Running for a James Beard Award?

Nominees for the annual James Beard Awards were announced on Twitter this morning, and Washington will be well represented at the starry ceremony, held May 2 and 3 at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall. Here’s who’s up for a medal:

Outstanding Chef: The evening’s equivalent of the best actor/actress award at the Oscars could go to José Andrés, the mad genius behind seven area restaurants. Although Andrés has garnered lots of attention for his Los Angeles venture, the Bazaar, he’s being singled out here for his work at Minibar, the six-seat, Ferran Adrià-inspired destination housed inside Penn Quarter’s Café Atlántico. This is the third year in a row he’s been up for the honor, and he’s got some serious competition: Top Chef judge and Craft owner Tom Colicchio and California chefs Suzanne Goin, Gary Danko, and Charlie Phan.

Outstanding Pastry Chef:
Amanda Cook, who elegantly updates candy bars and tin-roof sundaes at CityZen in Southwest DC’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, is up against Michelle Gayer of Minneapolis’s Salty Tart Bakery, Kamel Guechida of Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas’s MGM Grand, Nicole Plue of Yountville’s Redd, and Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Chicago.

Rising Star Chef:
This is the third time Johnny Monis—chef/owner of Komi, our 100 Very Best Restaurants issue’s top-rated restaurant—has been in play for this up-and-comer award. Also nominated are Timothy Hollingsworth of the California culinary mecca the French Laundry, Gregory Pugin of New York wine spot Veritas, Gabriel Rucker of Portland bistro Le Pigeon, and Sue Zemanick of the New Orleans classic Gautreau’s.

Best Chef Mid-Atlantic: Washington typically makes a strong showing in this regional category—CityZen’s Eric Ziebold won it last year in 2008. Restaurant Eve’s Cathal Armstrong, Obelisk’s Peter Pastan, and Top Chef runner-up and Volt owner Bryan Voltaggio are all in the running.

Best Audio Webcast or Radio Show:
The Kojo Nnamdi Show, which broadcasts Monday through Thursday from noon to 2, often discusses local ethnic-food scenes. Washingtonian restaurant critic Todd Kliman has been a frequent guest on the show.   

In the cookbooks section, local pastry chef David Guas’s DamGoodSweet has been nominated in the baking-and-dessert category. And the journalism awards have named the Washington Post as a candidate for best newspaper food section and the Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman as a possible winner for best newspaper feature.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.