Nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards, basically the “Oscars” of the restaurant world, were announced in a livestream event May 4, despite the fact that many of the restaurants on the list are temporarily (or permanently) closed.
Two local chefs — David DiBari, owner of Eugene’s Diner & Bar in Port Chester, DoughNation and The Cookery and The Parlor in Dobbs Ferry and Eric Gao of O Mandarin in Hartsdale — had been on the semifinalist list for Best Chef New York State.
Neither, however, made the final cut. Instead, the Best Chef New York State list was whittled down to five Manhattan cooks: Sean Gray of Momofuku Ko, Brooks Headley of Superiority Burger, Junghyun Park of Atomix, Daniela Soto-Innes of ATLA and Alex Stupak of Empellón.
The elimination is part of a long process. DiBari and Gao were originally chosen from an online open call for entries that were vetted by an independent volunteer group of more than 250 panelists around the country to determine eligibility and regional representation. The committee then produced a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 23 Restaurant and Chef Award categories. The list of semifinalists was then voted on by more than 600 judges from across the country to determine the final nominees in each category.
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A gala event celebrating the nominees was originally scheduled for March 25 in Philadelphia on what would have been the 30th anniversary of the James Beard Awards. It was rescheduled due to the coronavirus and instead held online. Finalists will be announced in Chicago on Sept. 25.
Jeanne Muchnick covers food and dining. Click here for her most recent articles and follow her latest dining adventures on Instagram @lohud_food. Check out lohud’s latest subscription offers here.
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