Winning a James Beard Award is a crowning achievement of a chef or restaurateur's career. The honor has been called the culinary equivalent of an Oscar or a Tony for good reason: It's awarded by a group of peers, and an accolate of that magnitude could point a chef on an upward trajectory for the rest of his or her life. In addition, winning — or even being nominated for — a James Beard can put that chef's city on the culinary map.
So how can Miami get more of its chefs and restaurants acknowledged by the James Beard Foundation? It all begins with an online vote.
Each year, the foundation announces a call for entries for its annual awards. That means anyone can nominate their favorite suggestions in up to 21 categories, ranging from Best New Restaurant to Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Last year, more than 24,000 entries were received. From there, foundation representatives total the entries and begin whittling them down. Without those first digital ballots, there could be no Michael Schwartz, Norman Van Aken, or Michelle Bernstein.
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Miami's culinary scene is on the rise, with many talented chefs opening interesting restaurants weekly. Yet each year, the Beard Awards elude our the Magic City. The last time a Miami-based chef advanced to the finals was 2013, when Hedy Goldsmith and Jeff McInnis made the grade. That year, South Beach's Juvia won a Beard for Outstanding Restaurant Design.
MIami is well overdue for a Beard (or two). Since 2013, the city has grown into a culinary destination. Innovative restaurants such as Alter and Stubborn Seed use modern techniques to push the boundaries of traditional formal dining. Chefs such as Jose Mendin and Michael Pirolo continue to dazzle diners through bountiful plates and deserve recognition.
If you are a fan of Miami's culinary scene — or merely a fan of Miami — you owe it to the city to take a minute to nominate your favorite chef and restaurant for James Beard Awards.
The deadline for entry is December 1 at 11:59 p.m., and one entry is allowed per person. To vote, visit jamesbeard.secure-platform.com.