The James Beard Foundation has released its list of semifinalists for the coveted James Beard Awards (think the Oscars for the restaurant and bar industry). The long-list will be whittled down to a select group of finalists, which will be announced on Wednesday, March 14.
There’s plenty of hometown talent among the contenders in nearly every one of the 21 categories. (The exception: no Outstanding Baker nominee, after Bread Furst’s Mark Furstenberg won the award last year.) Familiar names like Vikram Sunderam are back; the Rasika chef won Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2014 and is now nominated for an Outstanding Chef award alongside Fabio Trabocchi, a five-time nominee in various categories and ’06 winner of Best Chef in America for his long-shuttered Maestro in Tysons Corner.
Fresh additions include three exciting spots for Best New Restaurant—the luxe Del Mar, ambitious fast-casual Chiko, and fire-centric Maydan—plus rising talent Daniela Moreira. The Timber Pizza Co. chef joins Petworth neighbor Kevin Tien (Himitsu) in the running for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
The Mid-Atlantic best chef category is particularly packed with chefs from DC, including first-time nominee Esther Lee, new chef/owner of the veteran Obelisk. Coming from Virginia, there’s Laotian food phenom Seng Luangrath of Padaek in Falls Church, and Tony Conte of the stellar Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown, Maryland.
See the full list of Washington contenders below, and the complete lineup here. Winners will be announced in an awards ceremony in Chicago on May 7.
Best New Restaurant
Outstanding Bar Program
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Aggie Chin, Mirabelle
Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (The Bombay Club, Rasika, The Oval Room, and others
Outstanding Wine Program
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, VA
Rising Star Chef of the Year (“A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”)
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Amy Brandwein, Centrolina
Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint
Jeremiah Langhorne, the Dabney
Esther Lee, Obelisk
Cedric Maupillier, Convivial
Tarver King, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Seng Luangrath, Padaek
Tony Conte, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana