James Beard Announces 2012 Semifinalists

These local restaurants and chefs are eligible for JBF nominations this year.

Yesterday, the James Beard Foundation announced its list of semifinalists for the 2012 Restaurant and Chef awards. Janie Snyder, a rep for the James Beard Foundation, says the list was whittled from more than 56,000 nominations this year. Snyder says the 17-member restaurant committee made up of critics, editors, and writers deliberated for two full days in January to come up with the final semifinalist list, and Washington did well—find the full list of local restaurants and chefs chosen at the end of this post. Among the 2012 committee members are local scribes Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post and Corby Kummer of The Atlantic.

So are these restaurants, bars, and chefs this year’s James Beard nominees? Not exactly. Between now and March 19, judges (including the restaurant committee, past winners, and regional panelists selected by the restaurant committee) will narrow the list down to five in each category. The nominees will be announced on the 19th from Las Vegas. On Friday, May 4, the JBF will announce the winners of the Book, Broadcast, and Journalism awards. The ceremony for the Restaurant and Chef awards happens on Monday, May 7, in New York.

Good luck and congratulations to all of our local contenders.

Washington-area Semifinalists

Best New Restaurant: Fiola, Little Serow

Outstanding Bar Program: Columbia Room, PX

Outstanding Chef: Frank Ruta (Palena)

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Tiffany MacIsaac (Birch & Barley)

Outstanding Restaurant: Marcel’s

Outstanding Restaurateur: Ashok Bajaj (Knightsbridge Restaurant Group)

Outstanding Service: Restaurant Eve

Outstanding Wine Program: CityZen, Restaurant Eve

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional: Greg Engert (Neighborhood Restaurant Group)

Best Chef—Mid-Atlantic: Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve), Tony Conte (the Oval Room), Scott Drewno (the Source), Johnny Monis (Komi), Peter Pastan (Obelisk), Vikram Sunderam (Rasika), and Bryan Voltaggio (Volt).