The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2019 awards semifinalists, recognizing culinary achievement across the country. This year’s “long list” nominees included nine notable Michigan restaurants and chefs. Here’s the full lineup of national contenders.
Detroit’s restaurant-butcher shop combo Marrow has been nominated in the Best New Restaurant category, while Eater Young Gun Lisa Ludwinski of Sister Pie is a contender for a third year in a row for the Outstanding Baker category. Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor is in the mix for Outstanding Service, following Zingerman’s Delicatessen’s nomination in 2018 for the category. Selden Standard’s pastry chef and Eater Young Gun Lena Sareini has been nominated in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category recognizing talented chefs under the age of 30 for a second year running. Additionally, a remarkable five local chefs are in the running for Best Chef: Great Lakes, including frequent semifinalist James Rigato (Mabel Gray), Norberto Garita (El Barzon), Anthony Lombardo (SheWolf), Genevieve Vang (Bangkok 96), and Kate Williams (Lady of the House).
In October, the James Beard Foundation changed its policies to ensure a more diverse group of decision makers and award winners. The organization added new committee members and asked them to increase the diversity of Beards judges. As a result, there’s been a 7 percent increase in the representation of people of color among semifinalists in the Restaurant and Chef categories. While fewer women are represented in this year’s list, Michigan’s nominees include four women and one women-owned and operated restaurant.
Although Michigan often has a handful of semifinalists, the state’s presence is generally small compared to nominations from Chicago. This year, there are a whopping 25 Chicago nominees. Michigan nominees have found it even more challenging to leap from semifinalist to finalist. Last year, only Zingerman’s Delicatessen made it to the finals.
The semifinalist nominations will be whittled down to five nominees per category between now and 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27 when finalists will be announced at a the James Beard Media and Restaurant Design Awards in Houston. Winners will be named during the James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Sunday, May 5.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.