The James Beard Foundation released its list of semifinalists for its 2018 Restaurant and Chef Awards, and Philadelphia shows up 10 times across 21 categories. The awards, sometimes referred to as the Oscars of food, recognize culinary talent and exceptional restaurants in 10 regions across the States. Categories include things like best new restaurants, outstanding bar programs, bakers, rising star chefs and more. You can see the full list of nominees here, but here’s a rundown of how Philly did:
Essen Bakery’s Tova du Plessis—is up for the Outstanding Baker prize, which recognizes “a chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries, or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence.” We love Essen, too. The East Passyunk spot is on our list of the best bakeries Philadelphia has to offer—namely for its delicious babka, rugelachs, challah.
Pat O’Malley of Hungry Pigeon is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Old City Middle Eastern go-to Zahav is up for an Outstanding Service award.
Two locals are up for the Rising Star Chef of the Year prize, which recognizes burgeoning chefs 30 years or younger who are kicking ass in the kitchen. Those contenders are Camille Cogswell from Zahav, and Jesse Ito from Royal Izakaya.
Four Philadelphia restaurants vie for the coveted Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Award, which covers culinary wizards working in D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Those are: Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi for his work at Laurel, Rich Landau at Vedge, Cristina Martinez and Benjamin Miller from El Compadre, and Ena Widjojo, Maylia Widjojo and Diana Widjojo from Point Breeze Indonesian gem Hardena.
A more condensed list of finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 14, in a ceremony at Philly’s Parc hosted by James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr. Then, the actual awards will be doled out at a posh event in Chicago on May 7. Good luck to all the local contenders!
RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to the best restaurants in Philadelphia