The semifinalists for the James Beard Awards were just annnounced today, and Charleston’s culinary stars are well represented.


Ken Vedrinski’s wonderful Trattoria Lucca is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef and also for Best Chef: Southeast

Chef Aaron Deal of Tristan is also a Rising Star semifinalist while Charleston Grill is a semifinalist for Outstanding Service.


As for Best Chef: Southeast, I’ll post the full list so you can see who’s in the running:

  • Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, GA
  • Arnaud Berthelier, The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, Atlanta
  • Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, SC
  • Damian Heath, Lot 12 Public House, Berkeley Springs, WV
  • Mark Hibbs, Ratcliffe on the Green, Charlotte, NC
  • Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta
  • Scott Howell, Nana’s, Durham, NC
  • Mike Lata, Fig, Charleston, SC
  • Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY
  • Daniel Lindley, St. John’s Restaurant, Chattanooga, TN
  • Margot McCormack, Margot Café & Bar, Nashville
  • Ouita Michel, Holly Hill Inn, Midway, KY
  • Bruce Moffett, Barrington’s Restaurant, Charlotte, NC
  • Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Hector Santiago, Pura Vida, Atlanta
  • Bill Smith, Crook’s Corner, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Chip Smith, Bonne Soirée, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Ken Vedrinski, Sienna, Daniel Island, SC
  • Bob Waggoner, Charleston Grill, Charleston, SC
  • Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

So, the way it works is, the James Beard Foundation accepts thousands of online entries and picks this group of semifinalists. From here, the categories will be narrowed down to five finalists by a panel of more than 400 judges. Those finalists will be announced on March 23 at a breakfast in Chicago and then winners will be announced May 4 in NYC at the annual awards gala.

I wonder what happens when a chef is no longer at a restaurant (a la Waggoner)? Does that disqualify them automatically?