Expect to hear a lot of James Beard talk this year. Not only should a local chef or two make it to the nominations for the annual chef awards, we expect a local to take one home again this year. Sean Brock should once again be a big contender for the national Outstanding Chef award. Last year, he made it to the semi-finals, but this year we think he can make it to the short nominee list, if not all the way to the medal.
Other names we expect to see are Jeremiah Bacon of the Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse and Craig Deihl of Cypress. Deihl, who made the nominee list last year, has been getting his name out in the press a lot these days and will be hosting a James Beard dinner in February.
Speaking of that dinner, it looks like a good one. The Celebrity Chef Tour, as it’s billed, will feature Trevor Kunk of Blue Hill in New York, N.Y.. Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, La., Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and David Varley, Mina corporate executive chef. The evening, which includes passed hors d’oeuvres, five courses, and wine pairings, will cost $160 and benefit the James Beard Foundation.
And, in case you forgot, the James Beard Award nominees will actually be announced here in Charleston and the foundation will be hosting a special event, along with the CVB and Wine and Food Festival, out on Fort Sumter, which Deihl will also be participating in.
On Wed. March 13, four teams of chefs will prepare three-course seated dinners at the Lowcountry Legends Salute James Beard dinner. The catch is you have to pick your chef when you purchase tickets. The teams are led by three James Beard Award winners — Mike Lata, Sean Brock, and Robert Stehling — while Deihl will head up the fourth team.
The ticket price is a steep $300, but the experience should be unforgettable. (The Ultimate Critics Dinner held out there in 2011 ranks as one of the best events I’ve ever been to.) The coolest part of the whole James Beard connection, though, has to be the local announcement of the nominees, which will be streamed live from Lowndes Grove on Eater on Monday, March 18 at 11 a.m.