(Jackson, Wyo.) - Yesterday, The James Beard Foundation announced its list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for the 26th annual James Beard Foundation Awards and one Wyoming chef made the list. Chef Jeff Drew of Snake River Grill was named a semifinalist for the best chef in the Northwest. According to the national organization, "Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire." These semifinalists were selected from more than 20,000 online entries and represent 21 different categories ranging from culinary talent, from exceptional chefs and dining destinations in ten different regions across the U.S., to the nation’s top wine and spirits professionals, best new restaurants, rising star chefs, pastry chefs and bakers. The James Beard Foundation holds an online open call for entries beginning in mid-October of each year. This year, more than 20,000 entries were received, a list which the Restaurant and Chef Committee reviews to determine eligibility and regional representation. Based on the results and eligibility requirements for each award, the committee then produces a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 21 Restaurant and Chef Award categories. The list of semifinalists is then sent to an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges from across the country. This panel, which comprises leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners, votes on specific award categories to determine the final five nominees in each category. The same judges then vote on these five nominees to select the winners. Tabulations to determine the nominees and winners are done by independent auditors, Lutz & Carr. The governing Awards Committee, board of trustees, and staff of the James Beard Foundation do not vote, and the results are kept confidential until the presentation of winners in May. The final nominees will be announced on March 15 and the winners will be announced on May 2.
See the full list of nominees here.
*Feature Photo: Chef Jeff Drew of Snake River Grill. h//t Snake River Grill