We're officially in the throes of awards show season — and that isn't limited to the entertainment industry. This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2009 awards. On March 23, the short list of complete nominees will be unveiled, and the honorable achievements — often referred to as the "Oscars of the food world" — will be presented at an awards gala on May 4 at Manhattan's Lincoln Center.
Semifinalist names were announced for the following categories: outstanding restaurateur, outstanding chef, outstanding restaurant, best new restaurant, rising star chef of the year, outstanding pastry chef, outstanding wine service, outstanding wine and spirits professional, outstanding service, and best chef for the following regions: Pacific, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Great Lakes, New York City, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and South. This list doesn't include a good portion of the other James Beard Foundation's awards, including its cookbooks, newspaper articles, restaurant design, and blog awards, which are yet to be unveiled.
Although there are a number of celebrity chefs (Tom Colicchio, Dan Barber, José Andrés) as well as blockbuster restaurants on the list — Momofuku Ko, Scarpetta, and L20 — I also spotted a bunch of new names. Scan the 19-page list and tell me if any of your favorites have been included. Were any notable ones left off?