James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Andrew Zimmerman

After graduating first in his class from the French Culinary Institute, Zimmerman went on to work in various kitchens before landing a position at 2Senza in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working for three years under his mentor, Chef Renato Sommelia, the rising star chef packed his bags for the Midwest upon accepting a position along Chef Sandro Gamba at Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2004, Zimmerman met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who hired him as Executive Chef at MOD, and after his stint at MOD, the duo opened the widely-acclaimed del Toro. Zimmerman later returned to the Park Hyatt as the chef de cuisine at NoMI, under Chef Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Emmanuel Nony, and the next year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia. At this West Loop restaurant, this rock star chef integrates modern American and traditional European influences into dishes that blend complex textures and flavors with and clean, elegant presentations—sort of like a tight riff on a classic melody.

Nomination: Outstanding Wine Program (Sepia)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.  

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: William Wright

Executive Chef William Wright has embraced the art of regionalism and simplicity into his cuisine. He honed his culinary skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in Sicily, where he served under legendary Italian Chef Pino Cuttaia at Ristorante at La Madia, and in New York City at Telepan and A Voce. After moving to Houston, he served as sous chef at Philippe Restaurant and then Table on Post Oak. His menu introduces Houstonians to delicious but unfamiliar flavors and modern trends in Greek cuisine while retaining the simple, healthy, fresh style at the heart of Greek cooking. His menu introduces Houstonians to delicious but unfamiliar flavors and modern trends in Greek cuisine while retaining the simple, healthy, fresh style at the heart of Greek cooking.

Nomination: Rising Star Chef of the Year

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Alex Roberts

At the age of 15, Alex Roberts was working as a dish washer at Caspers, a restaurant in southern Minneapolis. When a cook didn’t show up to work one night, the Chef asked Roberts to work in the kitchen. From that day forward, the chef told the owner, “He’s with us now. Get a new dishwasher.” and thus began his cooking career!

Now the chef/owner of Restaurant Alma for the last 17 years, Chef Alex Roberts continuously elevates his cuisine and venue. Converting an adjacent coffeehouse into a casual, all-day cafe and adding a six-room hotel upstairs, the culinary entrepreneur certainly earns the title of ‘Outstanding Chef’ — regardless of who wins the award.

Nomination: Outstanding Chef (Restaurant Alma) 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: David Chang

David Chang has always possessed a passion for noodles. However it wasn’t until he discovered Alan Yau’s Wagamana while studying abroad in London that he contemplated cooking as a career. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in Religious Studies, he briefly held a financial job, before quickly realizing he did not belong behind a desk. So, he decided to pursue his real passion and enrolled in the International Culinary Center’s Classic Culinary Arts program. His time at the International Culinary Center led him into the kitchen of Jean-George Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen, and Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant. After his time at Craft, David traveled to Japan where he studied the art of soba making, refining this knowledge into creating his own dishes at Noodle Bar. In 2004, David Chang opened Noodle Bar, his first Momofuku restaurant in New York City. Today, there are four Momofuku restaurants in Manhattan, including Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Má Pêche, and a bakery, Milk Bar, with two locations.

Nomination: Outstanding Restaurant  (Momofuku Noodle Bar)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske

Fabian Von Hauske grew up in Mexico City, where he got his culinary start working in the kitchen of a café. He graduated from The French Culinary Institute’s Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs in 2009 and 2010, respectively. While attending FCI (now called International Culinary Center), Fabian worked at Michelin 3-star Jean-Georges, then left the country to work at world renowned dining establishments such as Noma, Faviken and Attica. There, he met Jeremiah Stone, who was the sous chef for school events and a 2007 Professional Culinary Arts graduate [from ICC]. Jeremiah moved to Europe following his program completion at the International Culinary Center, and has worked at Rino and Isa, among other places.

Then the pair traveled around Europe and started planning for what would eventually become Contra. The two took over a year to find the space for Contra, which opened in October 2013. The restaurant serves a set menu of contemporary New York cuisine with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.

Nomination: Best Chef: New York City

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Dan Barber

Dan Barber is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in The New York Times, along with many other publications. Chef Dan Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006), the Country’s Outstanding Chef (2009), and Writing and Literature for his book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food (2015). His two restaurants have received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S. for Blue Hill New York (2013) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns (2015). In 2009, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

Nomination: Outstanding Service (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Matt Rudofker

Matt’s first kitchen experience was at the age of 16, in Philadelphia at Verti. In 2005, when he turned 18, he moved to New York and worked unpaid again at Cru before leaving for Oceana to work under Cornelius Gallagher. He then worked at Cru, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Matt then spent time at Daniel, where he was part of the team that earned both four stars from the New York Times, and 3 Michelin Stars. He even did a stage in England’s fame Fat Duck. Then in 2010 Rudofker signed on at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.

Nomination: Rising Star Chef of the Year 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Joseph Baldino

Growing in South Philadelphia, Joseph Baldino has always been around great cooks and food. His mother and two aunts were credited as his earliest mentors. His life goal was to eventually own his own restaurant. Starting as a busboy at a small local trattoria, Baldino graduated from Temple University, and shortly after, enrolled in The French Culinary Institute. 

Following his culinary school graduation, Chef Baldino became the sous chef and eventually chef de cuisine for Vetri and Osteria. He traveled the world to work alongside esteemed chefs such as Georges Perrier, Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov, Alice Waters and Daniel Boulud. In 2011, he opened his restaurant Zeppoli, which was inspired by his stay at Anna Tasca Lanza’s farm in Sicily. Just months after opening, he received his first nomination from the James Beard Foundation, and has since become a semi-finalist three more times.

Nomination: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Brittanny Anderson

Brittanny Anderson has worked in restaurants since she was 15, from the front of house to being behind the bar. It was there where she began to gain an interest in cooking. She worked for a chef as garde manger (cold food production), before leaving Richmond to go to the French Culinary Institute in New York.

After graduating at the top of her class, Brittanny worked in some prestigious kitchens in New York, most notably Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Northern Spy Food Company. After her New York takeover, she has return back to her hometown of Richmond, where is the Co-Owner & the Executive Chef of Metzger Bar + Butchery.

Nomination: Best Chef Mid Atlantic