Best restaurants in Florida: See the 2023 James Beard Awards semifinalists
The so-dubbed “Oscars of Food” semifinalists were announced Wednesday and they smiled upon South Florida.
For the first time, Palm Beach County led the way among Florida chefs who got a James Beard Award semifinals nod for the coveted “Best Chef” in the South award.
Five Palm Beach County chefs landed a spot in that category. They include Jeremy and Cindy Bearman of the refined-yet-casual Oceano Kitchen in Lantana, Rick Mace of Tropical Smokehouse barbecue restaurant in West Palm Beach, Pushkar Marathe of the Indian-leaning Stage Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens and Lojo Washington of Queen of Sheeba, an Ethiopian restaurant that grew out of a soul-food takeout window in West Palm Beach's Historic Northwest District.
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“Go Palm Beach County! It shows that we’re on the level in Palm Beach, and there are many chefs who have been part of the effort. It’s really humbling to make the list,” said Mace, a former Café Boulud executive chef who left the fine-dining world to open the Florida-focused barbecue spot on South Dixie Highway.
The Palm Beach County chefs are joined in the “Best Chef: South” category by Orlando chef Henry Moso of Kabooki Sushi, Fort Lauderdale chef Timon Balloo of The Katherine and Miami chefs Fernando, Valerie and Nando Chang of Itamae.
Across all James Beard Award restaurant and chef categories, it was Miami that received the largest number of semifinalists in the state.
Michelin-starred chef Michael Beltran’s Ariete restaurant in Miami’s Coconut Grove is among the 20 national establishments to make this year’s semifinals list for “Outstanding Restaurant”.
Iconic Miami chef Michael Schwartz received a semifinalist nod for “Outstanding Chef,” a national honor. Schwartz, who brought new energy to Miami’s Design District when he opened Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in 2007, won a James Beard Award for “Best Chef” in the South in 2010.
Also in Miami, Rosie’s Southern restaurant chef/owner Akino West made the national semifinals list for “Emerging Chef”. Wynwood’s Zak the Baker is a national semifinalist for “Outstanding Bakery”. Among the semifinalists in the national category of “Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker” are Doral father-and-son bakers Manuel and Jesús Brazón of Caracas Bakery.
Little Havana’s Café La Trova restaurant and bar is among the semifinalists in the national “Outstanding Bar” category. And Miami Beach’s Macchialina restaurant made the semifinals list in the national category of “Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program”.
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Among the semifinalists for “Outstanding Restaurateur” were Mohamed Ali Alkassar and Niven Patel of the Alpareno Restaurant Group, which includes Ghee Indian Kitchen, Orno and Mamey restaurants in the Miami area.
The semifinals list will be narrowed, and this year’s finalists will be announced March 29. James Beard Award winners will be revealed June 5 at a ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Liz Balmaseda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network. She covers the local food and dining beat. Follow her on Instagram and Post on Food Facebook. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: Some Gannett staffers have served as part of the James Beard Awards voting body.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County restaurants chefs in James Beard Award semifinals