Today, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2020 semifinalists and as always, Charleston got a few acknowledgments. Many of these folks have seen a JBF nom before, but Charleston newcomer Shamil Velazquez scored a nomination for Best Chef Southeast just a few months after he helped open Delaney Oyster House with Neighborhood Dining Group (Husk, McCrady’s) in the fall.

Velazquez says the nomination comes as a surprise: “I’m very humbled, I wasn’t expecting it. It’s cool to be associated with so many great chefs, like Katie Button from Curate [in Asheville].”

He credits the positive environment of everyone on the Delaney team with the restaurant’s quick success in Charleston. “We stick to our own thing, we’re doing us. We’re going to stay positive, humble, and cooking good food.”

Additional nominations include:

The Grocery’s Kevin Johnson, Best Chef Southeast

Leon’s Oyster Shop, Outstanding Hospitality

FIG, Outstanding Restaurant

Steve Palmer, Outstanding Restaurateur

High Wire Distilling Co., Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer

In addition to Steve Palmer’s nomination, Indigo Road Hospitality Group also posted an acknowledgement for Tiny Lou’s in Atlanta.

The finalists will be announced on Wed. March 25 with an awards gala to follow in Chicago on May 4.

Check out all the semifinalists online at

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