This month, the James Beard Foundation released its list of semifinalists for 2017’s prestigious Restaurant and Chef Awards, more commonly referred to as the James Beard Awards.
Nearly two dozen chefs, restaurants, and industry professionals from Seattle and Washington were given nods, though it’s important to remember that this long list is just phase one of a three-part process: the finalists, called “nominees” to really confuse things, will be revealed Wednesday, March 15, and the winners will be announced Monday, May 1. The 2017 Media Awards (formerly known as the Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards) will be held on Tuesday, April 25.
In 2016 Washington had a slightly larger field of 22 contenders, but that included last year’s Best Chef: Northwest winner, Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins. There aren’t a lot of unexpected picks this year, as many are back again for at least the second time, including Canon for Outstanding Bar Program and the Best Chef: Northwest two-fer of Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, who made it as far as the nominations round last year despite getting screwed by a Beard blunder.
Unfortunately, women remain underrepresented on the list, with Yang the only one named (though returning Outstanding Restaurant-semifinalist Cafe Juanita is owned by chef Holly Smith). In a competition that continues to favor wine and cocktails over beer, though, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Seattle craft beer bar No Anchor on the long list for Best New Restaurant.
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
No Anchor, Seattle
Upper Bar Ferdinand, Seattle
A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.
Evan Andres, Columbia City Bakery, Seattle
Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.
A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
Matt Dillon, Sitka & Spruce, Seattle
Blaine Wetzel, Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Lummi Island, WA
A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.
Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Seattle (Staple & Fancy, Tavolàta, Anchovies & Olives, and others)
Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.
Wild Ginger, Seattle
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
A beer, wine or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.
Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA
Rising Star Chef of the Year
A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
Jay Blackinton, Hogstone’s Wood Oven, Orcas Island, WA
Maximillian Petty, Eden Hill, Seattle
Brady Williams, Canlis, Seattle
Best Chef: Northwest
Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.
Eric Donnelly, RockCreek, Seattle
Mike Easton, Il Corvo, Seattle
Edouardo Jordan, Salare, Seattle
Kotaro Kumita, Wataru, Seattle
Nathan Lockwood, Altura, Seattle
Shaun McCrain, Copine, Seattle
Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle
Seattle Eater | February 2017