America just shined its spotlight on the Academy Awards, and now it turns toward the “Oscars” of the food industry, otherwise known as the James Beard Awards. These culinary accolades seek to honor the skill and expertise of top chefs and restaurants across the nation each year.

The process begins in mid-October of the preceding year when details and forms for each category are posted on the James Beard Foundation website. Entries, along with input solicited from an independent volunteer group of more than 250 panelists around the country, are then reviewed by the Restaurant and Chef Committee to determine eligibility and regional representation.

Based on those results, the committee then produces a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 21 Restaurant and Chef Award categories. Judges are all experts in their fields selected by the governing committee for each awards category. They are comprised of restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Award winners

This year’s list of semi-finalists includes nine Michigan restaurants across five categories. They are:

Best New Restaurant

Outstanding Baker
Lisa Ludwinski, Sister Pie, Detroit

Outstanding Service
Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Ann Arbor, MI

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Lena Sareini, Selden Standard, Detroit

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Norberto Garita, El Barzon, Detroit
Anthony Lombardo, SheWolf, Detroit
James Rigato, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, MI
Genevieve Vang, Bangkok 96, Dearborn, MI
Kate Williams, Lady of the House, Detroit

The list comprised of these and all other semifinalists will now be voted on by more than 600 judges from across the country, who are experts in their field. They include leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Award winners. They will narrow the field and a list of final nominees for each category will be announced on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019.

The same group of judges will then determine the ultimate winners, which will be revealed at an awards gala in Chicago on May 6, 2019. The winners take home a prestigious medal and serious bragging rights, but no cash awards.

View the complete list of semi-finalists.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.