No need to book a trip to New York City for the 2014 James Beard Foundation's awards gala on May 5, because there will be no South Florida chefs or restaurateurs to root for when the awards are announced.
The James Beard finalists were announced yesterday and not one Miami connection was among the short list of people and places up for the coveted award.
Not Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink), a semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category; nor The Broken Shaker in the Outstanding Bar category. Jose Mendin (Pubbelly) and Horacio Rivadero (The District Miami), who were both given preliminary nods in the Best Chef: South category, were also left out of the final tally of Beard hopefuls.
Last year, both Hedy Goldsmith and Jeff McInnis were Beard finalists, along with restaurant Juvia's design team. The gorgeous rooftop restaurant's team actually won the award for Best Restaurant Design or Renovation in North America (76 seats and over). Take into consideration the induction of Michael Mina, owner of Miami's Bourbon Steak and Miami Beach's Michael Mina 74, and 2013 proved to be a fine year for the Miami culinary scene, indeed.
Miami has had no shortage of winners in the past, with Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz, and Norman Van Aken some of the past recipients of a James Beard award, but this year something went awry. Perhaps we've grown too much, too soon.
Being shunned by the James Beard Foundation could actually be a good thing. While Miami's drinking and dining scenes have evolved by leaps and bounds over what we were just five years ago, we're still relative babes compared to cities like New York and Chicago. In the Best Chef: South category alone, four out of the five finalists named are from New Orleans -- a city where food and drink have been part of their culture for at least a century longer than Miami's. And the Outstanding Bar Program's finalists are from cities where the quest for the perfect cocktail has been around since before prohibition.
To put it in the terms that Neil Degrasse Tyson used in his new Sagan-remake, Cosmos, if the entire history of food were referenced into one calendar year, Miami dining would take up only about the last 15 seconds of the last day of the year.
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This year, Miami chefs, mixologists, and restaurateurs will get more determined to prove to their peers across the nation -- and the world -- that we are a force to be reckoned with. Nothing worth having comes easy. And that includes a James Beard award.
For a complete list of 2014 James Beard award finalists, visit jamesbeard.org.