The James Beard Foundation has just announced its semifinalists in the restaurant and chef categories for 2019, and South Florida has several reasons to be proud.
Four outstanding chefs from the region have made the shortlist in the coveted category Best Chef: South. They are Lindsay Autry (the Regional Kitchen & Public House), Clay Conley (Buccan), Brad Kilgore (Alter), and Niven Patel (Ghee Indian Kitchen). This is Kilgore's fifth time being named a semifinalist for a Beard. Kilgore, who is currently in New York City, was humble when he learned of the announcement, talking up how great it was that Miami was recognized so many times.
Valerie Chang and Nando Chang received a nod in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category for their work at Itamae in St. Roch Market. Chefs in this category must be aged 30 or younger and "display an impressive talent, likely to make a significant impact on the industry for years to come," according to the Beard Foundation. Madruga Bakery's Naomi Harris is up for Outstanding Baker.
The gorgeous and tony Surf Club Restaurant was named a semifinalist in the category Best New Restaurant, as was Nina Compton's Bywater American Bistro. Compton — who worked for several years at Scarpetta in Miami Beach before moving to New Orleans with her life and business partner, Larry Miller — last year took home the Best Chef: South award for her work at Compère Lapin.
This announcement marks the beginning of a long road to winning a coveted James Beard Award. The semifinalist list will be whittled down, and the finalists will be announced Wednesday, March 27, in Houston.
After that, the winners for 2019 will be announced at the annual awards gala and reception at the Lyric Opera of Chicago Monday, May 6. In addition, the 2019 Leadership Awards will be presented Sunday, May 5, in Chicago, and the 2019 Media Awards presentation will take place Friday, April 26, in New York City. If you want to see the award show live, tickets for both the gala and the media awards will go on sale March 27 at jamesbeard.org./awards.
Here are South Florida's semifinalists:
Best New Restaurant
- Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans (Nina Compton, honorary Miamian)
- The Surf Club Restaurant, Surfside
- Naomi Harris, Madruga Bakery, Coral Gables
- Norman’s, Orlando (Norman Van Aken's Orlando restaurant)
Rising Star Chef of the Year
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- Valerie Chang and Nando Chang, Itamae, Miami
Best Chef: South
- Lindsay Autry, the Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach
- Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach
- Brad Kilgore, Alter, Miami
- Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen
A full list of all semifinalists can be found at jamesbeard.org.