Five Central Florida chefs representing four restaurants have been named semifinalists for a 2015 James Beard Award.
Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon; Scott Hunnel, Victioria & Albert's; Hari Pulapaka, Cress; and James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig, have been nominated for the Best Chef award for the South Region by the James Beard Foundation. All have been previous semifinalists. They are among a list of 20 chefs from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico nominated. As has been the case in recent years, New Orleans is the most heavily represented city with five chefs named.
Hunnel is Central Florida's most nominated chef. No local chef has made it to the final ballot. You can find the full list of James Beard Award semifinalists here.
Regional judges, comprised of restaurant critics and food journalists, will choose up to five candidates from the semifinalists list. Those getting the most votes will advance to the final ballot, to be announced on March 24. The same judges will then choose one chef from each region or category. The winners will be announced at a black-tie gala on May 4.
This year, the awards ceremony will be held in Chicago. It will be the first time the awards presentation has taken place outside of New York City.
Who would you vote for? And which of your favorite chef didn't make the cut this time?