Last year was Philadelphia's moment in the spotlight at the James Beard Foundation awards, as Stephen Starr, Michael Solomonov, and Greg Vernick won top prizes.
This year's crop of semifinalists from Philadelphia may lack the star power, but at least the Beard voters are recognizing women in the city's restaurant community.
The Beard's so-called long list of semifinalists was announced last week. The list will be culled, and the finalists will be announced the morning of March 14 in a ceremony from Parc on Rittenhouse Square. The awards will be handed out May 7 in Chicago.
The Philly connections:
Tova du Plessis, who owns Essen Bakery on East Passyunk Avenue, is one of 20 semifinalists for top baker; she was on the list last year. Also noted are H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Curiosity Doughnuts in Stockton, N.J., who will open a stand next month at the new Whole Foods store in Spring House, Montgomery County.
Talula's Table, Aimee Olexy's Kennett Square market/chef's table, is a semifinalist for restaurant.
Ellen Yin of High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, High Street on Market, High Street on Hudson, a.kitchen) is a semifinalist for restaurateur.
Camille Cogswell of Zahav again is a semifinalist for rising star chef of the year; she made the finals last year.
Jesse Ito of Queen Village's Royal Izakaya is a semifinalist for rising star chef of the year.
Teresa's Next Door in Wayne is a semifinalist in the bar-program category.
Pat O'Malley of the Hungry Pigeon is a semifinalist in the pastry category.
Zahav in Society Hill and Chef Vola's in Atlantic City are semifinalists in the service category.
On the list for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region are:
Joey Baldino of Zeppoli in Collingswood (he's been there before)
Nicholas Elmi of Laurel on East Passyunk (ditto)
Rich Landau of Vedge in Washington Square West (ditto)
Cristina Martinez and Ben Miller of El Compadre in South Philadelphia (ditto)
Ena Widjojo, Maylia Widjojo, and Diana Widjojo of Hardena in South Philadelphia