2012 James Beard Awards: Chefs and restaurants finalists
March 19th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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The 84th Academy Awards may have come and gone, but the James Beard Awards, better known as the "Oscars of the Food World," are just getting started.

Since 1990, the not-for-profit James Beard Foundation named after "the father of American cuisine," has been honoring the outstanding names in the food and beverage industry.

There is no cash reward, but a win – or even a nomination – can substantially increase the buzz for business, according to foundation President Susan Ungaro.

The nominations for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards were live-tweeted (@BeardFoundation) and live-streamed on restaurant, bar, and nightlife blog Eater.com Monday morning from The Azure Pool at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. The winners will be announced on May 7 at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception by James Beard Award–winning author and television personality Alton Brown.

Here are the finalists:

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
AQ (San Francisco, California)
Fiola (Washington, D.C.)
Isa (New York City)
Next (Chicago, Illinois)
Tertulia (New York City)

OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM
The Aviary (Chicago, Illinois)
Bar Agricole (San Francisco, California)
PDT (New York City)
Pegu Club (New York City)
The Violet Hour (Chicago, Illinois)

OUTSTANDING CHEF
David Chang, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (New York City)
Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko (San Francisco, California)
Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park (New York City)
Paul Kahan, Blackbird (Chicago, Illinois)
Donald Link, Herbsaint (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe (Boston, Massachusetts)
Melissa Chou, Aziza (San Francisco, California)
Hedy Goldsmith, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (Miami, Florida)
Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)
Ghaya Oliveira, Boulud Sud (New York City)
Mindy Segal, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (Chicago, Illinois)

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT
Balthazar (New York City)
Blue Hill (New York City)
Boulevard (San Francisco, California)
Highlands Bar and Grill (Birmingham, Alabama)
Vetri (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR
Bruce Bromberg and Eric Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants (New York City)
Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants (Seattle, Washington)
Piero Selvaggio, Valentino Restaurant Group (Santa Monica, California)
Caroline Styne, Lucques/A.O.C./Tavern (Los Angeles, California)
Phil Suarez, Suarez Restaurant Group (New York City)

OUTSTANDING SERVICE
Cyrus (Healdsburg, California)
La Grenouille (New York City)
Michael Mina (San Francisco, California)
Spiaggia (Chicago, Illinois)
Topolobampo (Chicago, Illinois)

OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM
A16 (San Francisco, California)
The Barn at Blackberry Farm (Walland, Tennessee)
Emeril's (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder, Colorado)
No. 9 Park (Boston, Massachusetts)

OUTSTANDING WINE & SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL
Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol, California)
Paul Grieco, Terroir (New York City)
Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery (New York City)
Neal Rosenthal, Mad Rose Group (Pine Plains, New York)

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
Dave Beran, Next (Chicago, Illinois)
Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food (San Francisco, California)
Thomas McNaughton, flour + water (San Francisco, California)
Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar (New York City)
Sue Zemanick, Gautreau’s (New Orleans, Louisiana)

BEST CHEF: GREAT LAKES
Michael Carlson, Schwa (Chicago, Illinois)
Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat (Chicago, Illinois)
Anne Kearney, Rue Dumaine (Dayton, Ohio)
Bruce Sherman, North Pond (Chicago, Illinois)
Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia (Chicago, Illinois)

BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve (Alexandria, Virginia)
Johnny Monis, Komi (Washington, D.C.)
Peter Pastan, Obelisk (Washington, D.C.)
Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama (Hoboken, New Jersey)
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika (Washington, D.C.)

BEST CHEF: MIDWEST
Justin Aprahamian, Sanford (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Gerard Craft, Niche (St. Louis, Missouri)
Colby Garrelts, Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Tory Miller, L’Etoile (Madison, Wisconsin)
Lenny Russo, Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market (St. Paul, Minnesota)

BEST CHEF: NORTHEAST
Jamie Bissonnette, Coppa (Boston, Massachusetts)
Tim Cushman, O Ya (Boston, Massachusetts)
Gerry Hayden, The North Fork Table & Inn (Southold, New York)
Matt and Kate Jennings, La Laiterie (Providence, Rhode Island)
Eric Warnstedt, Hen of the Wood (Waterbury, Vermont)

BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST
Matt Dillon, Sitka & Spruce (Seattle, Washington)
Jason Franey, Canlis (Seattle, Washington)
Christopher Israel, Grüner (Portland, Oregon)
Naomi Pomeroy, Beast (Portland, Oregon)
Cathy Whims, Nostrana (Portland, Oregon)

BEST CHEF: NYC
Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern
April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig
Wylie Dufresne, wd~50
Mark Ladner, Del Posto
Michael White, Marea

BEST CHEF: PACIFIC
Michael Chiarello, Bottega (Yountville, California)
Chris Cosentino, Incanto (San Francisco, California)
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, California)
Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)
Daniel Patterson, Coi (San Francisco, California)

BEST CHEF: SOUTH
Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery (New Orleans, Louisiana)
John Harris, Lilette (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club (Birmingham, Alabama)
Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Alon Shaya, Domenica (New Orleans, Louisiana)

BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST
Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten (Athens, Georgia)
Craig Deihl, Cypress (Charleston, South Carolina)
Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene (Atlanta, Georgia)
Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia (Louisville, Kentucky)
Joseph Lenn, The Barn at Blackberry Farm (Walland, Tennessee)

BEST CHEF: SOUTHWEST
Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks (San Antonio, Texas)
Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s Restaurant (Cave Creek, Arizona)
Bruno Davaillon, Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (Dallas, Texas)
Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja (Denver, Colorado)
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s (Houston, Texas)
Paul Qui, Uchiko (Austin, Texas)

AMERICA'S CLASSICS AWARDS
Locally owned restaurants "beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community," according to the Foundation.
The Fry Bread House (Phoenix, Arizona)
Nora's Fish Creek Inn (Wilson, Wyoming)
St Elmo Steak House (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna, Arkansas)
Shady Glen (Manchester, Connecticut)

WHO'S WHO OF FOOD & BEVERAGE IN AMERICA INDUCTEES
Grant Achatz, chef and author (Chicago, Illinois)
Mark Bittman, journalist and author (New York City)
Dana Cowin, editor and journalist (New York City)
Emily Luchetti, pastry chef and author (San Francisco, California)
Marvin Shanken, publisher (New York City)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Wolfgang Puck

HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
Charlie Trotter

Editor's note: Eatocracy Editor Kat Kinsman is the vice chair of the James Beard Journalism Committee, the group that oversees the journalism category's awards. An independent accounting firm oversees the process.



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