Last Thursday the James Beard Foundation released the chef and restaurant semifinalists for this year's James Beard Awards. The top five finalists in each of the 19 categories will be announced March 21st in anticipation of the awards dinner on May 9th. While many semifinalists are less than surprising (such as ABC Kitchen for Best New Chef, or Blue Hill for Outstanding Restaurant), there are a few notably curious entries.
Torrisi Italian Specialties in New York City is a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, which makes sense until you notice when it opened. According to the James Beard Foundation Awards criteria, a restaurant must have opened within a calendar year before the awards are given out to be eligible to win this award. Torrisi officially opened for business on December 30th, 2009. When we reached out to the Foundation to comment, Brett Anderson, the chair of the committee responsible for the Restaurant and Chef Awards, explained that Torrisi is being recognized for food it began serving when it opened for dinner service last March.
Also of note, Chef Michael Symon's restaurant, Lola, is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurant category. James Beard Foundation award policy states that a restaurant must be in business for ten consecutive years to be eligible to win this award. Although Symon opened Lola in 1997, he decided to close the restaurant in 2005 to open Lolita in that space, and subsequently re-open Lola in a downtown Cleveland location the following year.
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