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 very proud.
South Florida dominated the coveted Best Chef: South category with four outstanding chefs making the short list including 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 in New York City, was humble when he learned about the Beard 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 Itame at St. Roch Market. Chefs in this category must be age 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 the Outstanding Baker award.
The gorgeous and tony Surf Club Restaurant was named a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, along with Nina Compton’s Bywater American Bistro. Compton, who worked for several years at Scarpetta in Miami Beach before moving to New Orleans with life and work partner, Larry Miller, took home the Best Chef: South award last year for her work at Compere Lapin.
This is actually the beginning of the long road to winning a coveted James Beard Award. The semifinalist list will be whittled down, with the finalists announced from Houston on March 27.
After that, the winners for 2019 will be announced at the annual awards gala and reception May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Sunday, May 5. In addition, the 2019 Leadership Awards will be presented on Sunday, May 5 in Chicago and the 2019 Media Awards presentation will take place on Friday, April 26 in New York City. IF you want to see the awards live, tickets for both the Awards Gala and the Media Awards will go on sale on 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
- 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.