James Beard Award semifinalists: 6 Arizona chefs, restaurants nominated for 2017 awards

Shuai Wang has been named a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef- JONATHAN BONCEK

New Orleans chefs and restaurants were heavily represented on the James Beard Foundation's newly released list of 2017 awards semifinalists.

The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday announced its Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for this year's 27th annual James Beard Foundation Awards, and one Lawrence baker is on the list.

Miami, however, was shut out of the Outstanding Bar Program, Outstanding Pastry Chef, and Outstanding Chef awards, though Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch) was nominated for an Outstanding Chef award for Locanda Verde in NY. "The joy of having a wine program and doing what we do is sharing it with the guests that sit in our seats".

In addition to the Best Chef and Rising Star Chef awards, Drifters Wife in Portland is nominated in the Best New Restaurant category.

It's the first nomination for the longtime South Jersey sushi destination. "We don't pay too much attention to these things", she says of the nomination.

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Miami's most beloved bread maker, Zak Stern, AKA Zak the Baker, has received a nod for the Outstanding Baker award and Stephen Starr (Upland, Le Zoo, the Continental, Makoto, and Steak 954) was nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur. She pauses. "I have to check this James Beard Award".

With the exception of Essex staple Schultz's Crab House, which clinched one of the foundation's America's Classics awards earlier this year, the two fine-dining spots were the only Maryland restaurants to make the cut for 2017.

Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill and Raleigh's Ashley Christensen (Poole's, Death and Taxes, Beasley's, Chucks) are semi-finalists for outstanding chef in the country.

The foundation will narrow the categories down to five finalists in March, and the winners will be announced at a gala held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 1.

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