James Beard Semifinalists Announced: Miami Gets Several Nods

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The 2012 James Beard semifinalists have been announced and several Miami chefs and restaurants got a much-needed nod.  Semifinalists can bask in the glory until March 19, when the finalists are announced in Las Vegas.

The South Florida semifinalists are:

Best New Restaurant

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Miami Beach

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Hedy Goldsmith, Michael's Genuine Food and Drink, Miami

Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professionals

Virginia Philip, Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy, West Palm Beach

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Jarrod Verbiak, db Bistro Moderne at the JW Marriott Marquis, Miami

Best Chef: South

Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach

Paula DaSilva, 1500 Degrees at Eden Roc, Miami Beach

Jeff McInnis, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami Beach

Sergio Navarro, Pubbelly, Miami Beach

For a complete list of all semifinalists, click here.

At Yardbird, we caught up with McInnis, who was prepping for his Southern Revival Dinner with Sean Brock of restaurants Husk and McCrady's in Charleston (who was also named a 2012 James Beard semifinalist). Looking calm and collected, McInnis, said he had learned about being named a Beard semifinalist that morning; he told us about how he first heard the news.

New Times: First of all, congratulations. When did you hear that both you and Yardbird were named semifinalists for the 2012 Beard awards?
Jeff McInnis: Just this morning. My partner John [Kunkel] called me. I had marked it at some point, but I didn't' expect it. It was a pleasant surprise, that's for sure.

You really just marked the day the Beard semifinalists would be announced on your calendar and then forgot it?
I'm in the back with my head down, just cooking the majority of the time, but it was a little bit out of left field when I got the call.

Any jumping, screams, anything?
I had to keep my composure somewhat because I was at work, but yes. There was some steam coming out of my ears.

How is work on the Southern Revival dinner this Saturday going?
The dinner is going to be really fun. Sean [Brock] is bringing a handful of things with him, but we're doing the bulk of it here. We'll start prepping tomorrow, because we want everything to be fresh. There are a few charcuterie pieces that we've been working on for the past few months, but we'll start working on the bulk early tomorrow morning.

Anything else in the works, Jeff?
To be honest with you, we're going to change the Yardbird menu as soon as the South Beach Wine and Food festival is over. We're going to do a major overhaul on the menu -- brunch, lunch, and dinner.

What are you changing? What's going to be different?
You'll have to come and see. I mean, we're not going to get rid of the fried chicken. We'll keep the core items, but we're going to do a little face lift.

If you want to get a taste of McInnis and Brock's down-home style, their Southern Revival dinner at Yardbird is Saturday, February 25 at 8 p.m. Featuring a down-home menu circa the 19th century, this dinner benefits the Southern Foodways Alliance. Tickets are $375 per person.

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