New Orleans gets 14 nods on James Beard semifinalists list

New Orleans gets 14 nods on James Beard semifinalists list

Editor's note: Post-Dispatch restaurant critic Ian Froeb is a member of the James Beard Awards restaurant and chefs awards committee.

Saffron NOLA, the pioneering modern Indian restaurant developed by the Vilkhu family.

Last year, Dallas had several contenders: Flora Street Cafe, semifinalist for Best New Restaurant; FT33's Maggie Huff, semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef; and several semifinalists for Best Chef: Southwest: Omar Flores, Casa Rubia (which closed in July 2017); Teiichi Sakurai, Tei-An; John Tesar, Knife; and David Uygur, Lucia.

For the fifth year, JoAnn Clevenger of Upperline Restaurant is up for Outstanding Restaurateur, an award the James Beard Foundations gives to "a working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship".

Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe won "Best Chef: Midwest" a year ago, the second St. Louis chef to do so, following Gerard Craft of Niche in 2015.

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Last year, the Best Chef: South award went to Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint. Chef Frank Brigtsen won the group's regional best chef award in 1998. L'Etoile's wine program was a semi-finalist in 2013. And the one it seemed the entire city was pulling for: Misti Norris, semifinalist in the Rising Star of the Year category. The Bartolotta Restaurants in Milwaukee are semifinalists for Outstanding Restauranteur.

On March 14, the foundation's finalists will be announced at a live-streamed press conference in Philadelphia. In each of the previous nine years, Highlands has gone on to be a finalist for the top restaurant award but has yet to win.

The overall winners will be announced at the annual James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony on May 7 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Chef Nina Compton arrived in New Orleans in 2015 with a fan base already in place thanks to her star turn on "Top Chef" the year before.

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