The James Beard Foundation announced today the finalists for the 2010 James Beard Awards. The list was read at a press conference at the Palace Cafe in New Orleans.
The five finalists for the South region, which includes Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, are: Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud at the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach; Michael Schwartz, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami; Christopher Hastings, Hot & Hot Fish Club, Birmingham; John Harris, Lilette, New Orleans; and Scott Boswell, Stella!, New Orleans.
For the top awards, nominees for Outstanding Chef are: Jose Andres, Minibar, Washington, D.C.; Tom Collicchio, Craft, New York; Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco; Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles; and Charles Phan, The Slanted Door, San Francisco.
Outstanding Restaurant finalists are: Babbo, NYC; Boulevard, San Francisco; Daniel, NYC; Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham; and Spiaggia, Chicago.
Although no local chefs made the final cut, the long list of nominees included two area chefs: Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's, a previous nominee, and Keven Fonzo of K Restaurant. Both are certain to appear as nominees again.
If a Central Florida connection can be made through any of these nominations, it's via Spiaggia and chef/partner Tony Mantuano. The Levy Restaurants chef developed the new menu for the revamped Portobello at Downtown Disney. To download a complete list of finalists, including journalist awards, click this link .
The James Beard restaurant awards will be announced in a ceremony at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on Monday, May 3.