Not a single Tampa Bay restaurant has been given the green light by James Beard this year | Food News | Tampa

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The James Beard Award semifinalists were announced on Wednesday — and for the first time since 2020, Tampa Bay is nowhere to be found.

The Bay has seen a dearth of nominations since Edison Food + Drink Lab’s Jeannie Pierola and The Library’s Rachel Bennett were among the semi-finalists in 2019. The Bay Area hasn’t snagged a Beard Award since Bern’s Steak House won the Outstanding Wine Program in 2016.

One of the nation’s most prestigious culinary awards, the annual James Beard Foundation Awards honor chefs and restaurants in other categories such as Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Chef and Best New Restaurant.

The Tampa Bay Times noted that the Beard Awards have received backlash from the public over the past few years and were canceled in 2020 and 2021 as it received “allegations of misconduct against some of its nominated leaders and the taking of aware that no black people had won in any of the 23 categories on the ballot.'”

Since the creation in 1990 of the awards rewarding the American culinary scene, the winners have been predominantly white and male, like James Beard, who was probably the first famous American chef.

Additionally, Floridians expressed dissatisfaction with a lack of representation in the winning pool, as nearly all Florida nominees never make it past this stage.

The Florida cooks have never won Best Chef in the South and only received two nominations in national categories, with Hedy Goldsmith for Best Pastry Chef in 2012 and 2013.

Since Michael Schwartz’ regional win in Miami in 2010, no other Florida chef has won a James Beard award.

This year, Florida is nominated in five categories:

  • Outstanding restorer Jason and Sue Chin, Good Salt Restaurant Group, Orlando
  • Best New Restaurant Zitz Sum, Coral Gables
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour, Bachour, Coral Gables and Doral; and Rabii Saber, Four Seasons, Orlando
  • Outstanding Baker Evette Rahman, Sister Honey’s, Orlando
  • best chef in the south Michael Beltran, Ariete, Coconut Grove; Conley Clay, Buccan, Palm Beach; Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando; and Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Kendall

The James Beard Awards will take place June 13 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

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