By: Eric Velasco
Newcomers join some familiar names on the list of Alabama-based semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Awards, considered the nation’s most prestigious accolades for chefs, restaurants, beverage programs and even food journalists.
The Alabama nominees include a six-time Beard semifinalist facing off with a “Top Chef” winner, a lauded chef from Mobile and others for best chef in the South. A pastry guru with a new bakery in Birmingham is singled out among the nation’s emerging chefs. A bay-area restaurant is praised for its wine and beverage program.
Alabama has been a nearly constant presence since the New York-based James Beard Foundation started rating the nation’s culinary scene in 1990. In a stretch starting in 1996, at least one Alabama chef, restaurant or bar program has made the semifinalist list 23 times. Currently, the state is riding a 17-year nomination streak. (The 2020 awards were canceled after finalists were announced and altogether in 2021 due to the pandemic.)
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