The 2015 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists have been announced, and although Miami has grown by leaps and bounds as a food city, it looks like the Beard Foundation gave us the shaft once again, with only two Miami chefs getting semifinalist nods from the New York-based organization. A Beard Award is the Tony or Oscar of the food world.
Pubbelly's Jose Mendin and Eating House's Giorgio Rapicavoli have both been named semifinalists in the Best Chef: South category, along with 18 other chefs from New Orleans to Orlando. For the complete list of semifinalists, see jamesbeard.org.
Both chefs, by the way, were in the running against each other once before. Mendin and Rapicavoli were nominated for Food & Wine's Best Chef awards in spring 2014.
This is Mendin's fourth year as a semifinalist, and the chef/restaurateur says he is "so blessed and honored even to be on that list for doing the thing I love the most -- cooking."
Rapicavoli's excitement over the news was less contained: "I'm ecstatic about this nomination. I'm completely fucking stoked and so incredibly honored!"
The Beard announcement was made, coincidentally, just as Blackbrick's Richard Hales and a cadre of Miami culinary artisans from Panther Coffee, Wynwood Brewing Company, JoJo Tea, and Azucar heads to New York to prepare an epic Chinese New Year fete at James Beard House.
Last year, several Miami restaurants and bars received semifinalist status, including Michael's Genuine Food & Drink's Michael Schwartz (Outstanding Chef category); the Broken Shaker (Outstanding Bar category); Pubbelly's Jose Mendin; and the District Miami's Horacio Rivadero (Best Chef: South category). However, not one Miami semifinalist advanced to the final round in 2014.
The Beard finalists will be announced Tuesday, March 24. The awards gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago Monday, May 4.