The Finalists for the 2019 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards

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Foodies rejoice! The James Beard Foundation announced today its list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists in advance of the 29th-annual James Beard Awards. The group of semifinalists across all categories—including the best new restaurants, outstanding bar, outstanding baker, and a rising-star chefs.

The Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press conference in Houston, TX hosted by James Beard Award–winning chef Hugo Ortega at his namesake Mexican restaurant, Hugo’s, on Wednesday, March 27. The event will take place at 9 a.m. CT / 10 a.m. ET and will be streamed live online, while the nominees will be live-tweeted via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed (

Overview of Restaurant and Chef Awards Process

The James Beard Foundation holds an online open call for entries beginning in mid-October of each year. Entries received, along with input solicited from an independent volunteer group of more than 250 panelists around the country, are reviewed by the Restaurant and Chef Committee 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.

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The list of semifinalists is then voted on by more than 600 judges from across the country to determine the final nominees in each category. The same group of judges, which comprises leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Award winners, then votes on the 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. (James Beard Awards policies and procedures can be reviewed at

About the 2019 James Beard Awards

The 2019 James Beard Awards celebrations begin in New York City on Friday, April 26, with the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists that will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

The events then move to Chicago, beginning with the Leadership Awards dinner on Sunday, May 5, at which honorees will be recognized for their work in creating a more healthful, sustainable, and just food world. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 6, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring chefs and beverage professionals from across the country, all of whom are involved in the Foundation’s Impact Programs.

The full list of 2019 James Beard Awards restaurant and chef award semifinalists, as well as the criteria, can be found on the Foundation’s website.

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