List of finalists for James Beard awards puts celebrity chefs on chopping block

Finalists for the prestigious
James Beard Foundation Awards have been announced and the newly pared down list has knocked a few high profile celebrity chefs out of the running.

Food Network TV chef Michael Symon was put on the chopping block and eliminated from both the Outstanding Chef Award and Outstanding Restaurant Award categories.

Symon is a ubiquitous presence on the US-based food channel, where he hosts shows like Food Feuds, and Cook Like an Iron Chef. He also made his mark as an Iron Chef America, cooking alongside Bobby Flay and Mario Batali. His Cleveland restaurant Lola was listed as one of "America's Best Restaurants" by Gourmet Magazine and he is already a James Beard award recipient.

Similarly, Michael Mina, who owns two one-star Michelin restaurants bearing his name, was axed from the round of finalists in the category of Outstanding Chef Award.

The finalists were announced Monday at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, the birthplace and hometown of James Beard. This year the competition received a record 28,000 entries online which were then whittled down to a list of semi-finalists. A panel of 550 judges, made up of of restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard award recipients, were then tasked with choosing the five finalists in each category.

Known widely as the 'Oscars' of the American food world, the James Beard Foundation Awards gathers the culinary glitterati to a gala dinner every year and recipients often go on to gastro-fame.

The most coveted award of the evening - akin to the award for Best Actor at the Oscars - will go to either: José Andrés, of Minibar in Washington DC; Gary Danko of Restaurant Danko in San Francisco; Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles; Paul Kahan of Blackbird in Chicago; or Charles Phan of The Slanted Door in San Francisco.

Outstanding Restaurant nominees include Blue Hill in New York City; Boulevard in San Francisco; Eleven Madison Park in New York City; Highlands Bar and Grill in Alabama; and Vetri in Philadelphia.

Other notable finalists include Gabrielle Hamilton, author of the widely acclaimed culinary narrative Blood, Bones & Butter and chef owner of Prune. She's up for the Best Chef Award for New York City.

Culinary stalwarts will also be duking it out in the category for Outstanding Service Award, as celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller and Rick Bayless are all finalists for their respective restaurants Emeril's, Per Se, and Topolobampo.

Winners will be announced Monday, May 9 at a gala dinner in New York City. The event is open to the public and can be purchased for $450 at


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