2011 James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalists; Vote For The People’s Best New Chef

Chef Matt Lightner, Castagna
Chef Matt Lightner, Castagna

Before I venture away to the warm, sandy beaches of Miami for the 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I certainly wanted to note the big announcement of last week – the James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists were released! While the national list is extensive, I wanted to recognize all of the fantastic Pacific Northwest nominees:

  • Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Seattle (Best New Restaurant)
  • Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland (Outstanding Chef)
  • Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy, Seattle (Outstanding Chef)
  • Higgins Restaurant & Bar, Portland (Outstanding Restaurant)
  • Ken Forkish, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Portland (Outstanding Pastry Chef)
  • Tom Douglas, Seattle (Outstanding Restaurateur)
  • Canlis, Seattle (Outstanding Service)
  • Nelson Daquip, Canlis, Seattle (Outstanding Wine Service)
  • Steve McCarthy, Clear Creek Distillery, Portland (Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional)
  • Matt Lightner, Castagna, Portland (Rising Star Chef of the Year)
  • Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland (Rising Star Chef of the Year)
  • Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn, Lummi Island (Rising Star Chef of the Year)

And, of course, the long list for Best Chef: Northwest:

  • Chris Ainsworth, Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Walla Walla, WA
  • Matthew Bennett, Sybaris, Albany, OR
  • Andy Blanton, Cafe Kandahar, Whitefish, MT
  • Dustan Bristol, Brick 29 Bistro, Nampa, ID
  • Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang, Joule, Seattle
  • Matt Dillon, Sitka & Spruce, Seattle
  • Jeff Drew, Snake River Grill, Jackson Hole, WY
  • Mark Fuller, Spring Hill, Seattle
  • John Gorham, Toro Bravo, Portland, OR
  • Christopher Israel, Grüner, Portland, OR
  • Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Portland, OR
  • Paul O’Connor, Il Villaggio Osteria, Teton Village, WY
  • Andy Ricker, Pok Pok, Portland, OR
  • Daniel Roberts, Q Cuisine, Billings, MT
  • Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR
  • Ethan Stowell, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Seattle
  • Jason Stratton, Spinasse, Seattle
  • Ian Troxler, Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, MT
  • Christopher Vane, Crush, Anchorage, AK
  • Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Portland, OR

Additional congrats to Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat in Chicago, nominated for Best New Restaurant; Ryan Hardy of Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen for Best Chef: Southwest; Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail for Best Chef: Southwest; and Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale for Best Chef: South.

The 2011 James Beard Foundation Award finalists will be named right here in Portland on March 21 before the New York City award ceremony takes place on May 9.

Check out the 2010 James Beard Foundation Awards coverage as well!

~Jennifer Heigl

*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender

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