Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Locals Growing Beards?

Beard Award
My James Beard Cookbook is probably among the most tattered and splattered in my kitchen. For a long time, it served as my initial reference point for basic cooking - how best to cook a burger or a steak, what to do with green beans, and so on. His meatloaf recipe remains one of our favorites. Though a few years ago, the Foundation that bears his name nearly collapsed under a scandal over misuse of funds, it seems that they've done a good job of setting things right since, and their annual restaurant awards and nominations are always interesting to peruse. I referred briefly in another post to a local nominee for one of the regional James Beard Awards. Here is a complete list of the local products who are semifinalists:

Best New Restaurant (National) - Michelle Bernstein with Sra. Martinez. She's up against some tough competition, though, with Jose Andres' new leviathan, The Bazaar, Paul Liebrandt's Corton, David Chang's Momofuku Ko, Scott Conant's Scarpetta, and Laurent Gras' L20, among several others, all in the mix.

Outstanding Wine Service (National) - Palme d'Or in Coral Gables, and California Grill in Disney World's Contemporary Resort (OK, calling that "local" is a stretch, but I've included it mostly just because of the "Who knew?" reaction I had).

Outstanding Service (National) - Palme d'Or again. Anyone surprised there's not any South Beach nominees?

Best Chef (South) - Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, Edgar Leal of Cacao in Coral Gables, Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, Douglas Rodriguez of Ola in Miami Beach, Philippe Ruiz of Palme d'Or in Coral Gables (yet again!), and Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami.


  • Palme d'Or? Three nominations? I'm not sure I even know anyone who's been. Guess I ought to try it.

  • What would the oddsmakers say of MGF&D's chances for "Best Chef (South)"?

  • If you're wondering why local darling Michelle Bernstein isn't among the nominees for "Best Chef (South)" category - she won the award last year.

  • Not a single Florida nominee for the "Rising Star Chef of the Year" category - what to make of that?


  1. I've been to Palm D'Or and it's very elegant and extravagant....not to mention hit or miss..interesting

  2. Sra. Martinez is a longshot to win-why it was even nominated is beyond me-it was barely open for a month in 2008. And it seems they are still tweaking. What I'm really excited about is the media awards nominations. Are you up for anything, my foodie friend? And welcome to the hell that is food blogging.

  3. After about 8 visits to Sra Martinez, the hype has faded for me. It just doesnt blow me away. The only dish I crave from there is the clams. Other dishes are good but not I-gotta-go-back good.

  4. BM, Twice every three weeks will do that to you.

    Rising star chef of the year - Do we have any rising stars?

    Michael wins it?

  5. I think Michael's got a very good shot at Best Chef South. As for "Rising Stars", truth is there are not many young chefs running their own shows locally that I can think of off the top of my head. Kurtis Jantz / Chad Galiano at Neomi/Paradigm? There's a young guy, Chef Kyle ?, at Talula who's been running the kitchen who I think is very talented, but that's Andrea Curto & Frank Randazzo's restaurant. Most of the new restaurants locally are from folks who have been around the block a few times already.

  6. I don't think Clay Conley's been Bearded.

  7. Frod that just sounds wrong... haha

    dmo, I dont follow?

  8. BM, i was just saying that after 8 visits the hype will definitely fade... I've been to Sra half as many times as you and the "hype" is sort of gone for me.
    If Sra was more reasonably priced it could be hit with more frequency.