The 2018 James Beard Award finalists have been announced and we’ve gone from eight semifinalists to three finalists.

Topping the list is Post & Courier Chief Critic and Food Editor Hanna Raskin.

Raskin received two noms today for the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award and for Local Impact Reporting, which she won last year. Raskin’s been on a tear this year investigating everything from tip pools to hidden fees, misconduct allegations against Patrick Properties CEO Randall Goldman — which forced James Beard to oust Goldman from its National Advisory Board — to exposing the scholarship of professor David S. Shields and his story of the Nat Fuller Feast as a myth.

According to new research from California State University Fresno history professor Ethan Kytle, the racial reconciliation dinner that supposedly took place in 1865, and was reenacted at McCrady’s in 2015, never happened. Raskin, who sits on the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards committee (which she says does not have any contact with the journalism committee), published the story yesterday prior to Shields’ book The Culinarians: Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining being named a finalist for a James Beard Award for Reference, History, and Scholarship today.

In her report, Raskin also called into question the book’s chapter on Cincinnati chef Balthazar Roth which the author has admitted he needs to rewrite. Whether this new report will change the Beard award results remains to be seen.

On the chef side of things, the one and only Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ has moved forward to the finalist list for Best Chef: Southeast. This is Scott’s first time on the list and he joins Mashama Bailey of Savannah’s The Grey, Katie Button for Asheville’s Nightbell, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog & Hominy in Memphis, and Cassidee Dabney the executive chef at Blackberry Farm. The Grocery’s Kevin Johnson and Bar Normandy’s Alex Lira do not move on.

FIG has once again joined the finalists for Outstanding Wine Program. If our records are correct, this is FIG’s fifth time on the finalist list.

The James Beard Awards will take place Mon., May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The 2018 Media Awards will be held on Fri., April 27, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. For the full list of finalists, visit

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