Some old names and a few newer ones from the region appear on the James Beard Foundation’s so-called “long list" of semifinalists for the 2020 James Beard Awards, announced today.
The nominees for the Beards, widely regarded as the Oscars of the restaurant business, will be announced on March 25 during a breakfast at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Awards will be handed out May 4 in Chicago.
Further, the foundation will stop in Philadelphia on April 14 with a Taste America dinner at Spice Finch restaurant. It will feature chef/owners Jennifer Carroll and Billy Riddle as well as guest chef Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Miss.
The Philadelphia-area semifinalists are:
Marc Vetri (Vetri Cucina and the new Fiorella) for outstanding chef. In this category, he was a nominee in 2014, 2015, and 2019, and made the semifinals in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2016. His book Mastering Pasta was a nominee in 2016. He also won the award for best chef, Mid-Atlantic in 2005 after two years as a nominee.
Bolete Chef Lee Chizmar and wife Erin Shea’s Fork-ish American restaurant in Bethlehem — for outstanding restaurant. It was a nominee in 2019, and Chizmar was a semifinalist in the best chef, Mid-Atlantic category in 2015.
Cookie Till (Steve & Cookie’s of Margate) for outstanding restaurateur. This is her first brush with the Beards. (Also on the restaurateur list are Mike and Jeff Mastro from Steak 48, opening at Broad and Spruce Streets this spring.)
Jesse Ito (Royal Sushi) for rising star chef. He was a finalist in 2019, after being a semifinalist in 2017 and 2018.
Tova du Plessis (Essen Bakery) for outstanding baker. She made the semifinalist cut in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Jean Broillet IV (Tired Hands) for outstanding wine, beer, spirits producer. This is his first Beard experience as a soloist. Tired Hands was a semifinalist in 2016 for outstanding bar program.
Le Caveau The French bar upstairs from Good King Tavern in Bella Vista, opened in October 2019, for outstanding wine program.
The Horse Inn The Lancaster restaurant is up for outstanding bar program.
Rich Landau (Vedge, V Street), Nicholas Elmi (Laurel, ITV, Royal Boucherie), Joey Baldino (Zeppoli), and Cristina Martinez (South Philly Barbacoa) for best chef, Mid-Atlantic. Landau and Elmi have been in the hunt since 2014, Baldino since 2012, and Martinez since 2017. Also: Taylor Mason of Luca in Lancaster.