Semifinalists for 2018 James Beard Awards include handful from KC

Courtesy The Advocate

Courtesy The Advocate

Two Eastern Carolina restaurant owners have been nominated for Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation.

Houstonians earned nominations in a number of other categories, too. Award finalists will be announced in Philly on March 14.

Finally, on May 7, the winners of the awards will be announced during a ceremony in Chicago. She's one of five Georgia chefs on the list, including Matthew Raiford of The Farmer & The Larder restaurant in Brunswick.

James Beard Awards are like the Oscars of the culinary world.

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Chef Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans was nominated for the national award of Outstanding Chef. In the Southwest, metro Phoenix chefs earned three nods.

This year the nominees display inspiring geographic breadth.

Frasca, a perennial favorite among James Beard voters, makes an appearance this year in the Outstanding Restaurant category.

McHugh, who also was finalist for Best Chef: Southwest in 2016 and 2017, opened his Pearl restaurant in late 2013 and focuses on traditionally cured meats, preserves, farm-fresh produce and inventive presentations.

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Good news: There are more women nominees this year. It's tricky for the Foundation to navigate talking about this. The list is then whittled down by a volunteer panel of more than 600 judges from across the country composed of restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard winners.

The #MeToo movement has come into play. Hansen's Sno-Bliz, Mosca's and Willie Mae's Scotch House are other New Orleans businesses to win the America's Classics award in past years. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. For the record: That's best new restaurant in the nation - putting Michael and Tara Gallina's eatery in extremely rarified company. This marks the fifth time Bhatt has been nominated for the award.

Vishwesh Bhatt, executive chef at Snackbar, was nominated for Best Chef: South.

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