Kinston chef Vivian Howard continues to rack up the accolades for her debut cookbook.
“Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South” is nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the American cooking category. The book already won Cookbook of the Year, along with three other awards, from the International Association of Culinary Professionals earlier this month.
Restaurant and chef award finalists for the 27th annual James Beard Foundation Awards were announced Wednesday in Los Angeles. The awards, considered the Oscars of the culinary world, are given in 21 categories, including outstanding chef, outstanding restaurant and best chef in 10 different regions, best new restaurants, rising star chefs, pastry chefs and bakers.
But while 14 North Carolina chefs had been named semifinalists last month, including nine in the Triangle, only one chef from the state is advancing as a finalist: John Fleer of Rhubarb in Asheville. He faces four other chefs in the Outstanding Chef: Southeast category.
The finalists announced Wednesday also include the nominations for the James Beard Media Awards, which cover books, journalism, broadcast media and restaurant design.
Former News & Observer food editor Andrea Weigl is nominated in a new journalism category for local impact for her stories: “Southern Season’s Woes Ripple Through State”; “The True Story of a Chef’s Chef”; and “Pitmaster: Sam Jones Takes ’cue to the Next Level.”
Author Ronni Lundy, who also won an IACP Award for her cookbook “Victuals: An Appalachian Journey,” will vie against Howard in the same category. She lives in western North Carolina.
Cooking Light editor Hunter Lewis, a Chapel Hill native and UNC graduate, is a finalist in the food and health journalism category.
Howard owns Chef & The Farmer, a farm-to-table restaurant in Kinston that’s the focus of her PBS series, “A Chef’s Life.”
Her book, released in October, celebrates the “characters who shape her life,” or the food that Howard uses in her restaurant and tells stories about on her show. Howard won a James Beard Award last year for Outstanding Television Personality in the annual James Beard Foundation awards. “A Chef’s Life” won a Peabody Award in 2014 and a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Lifestyle/Culinary/Travel Program in 2015.
North Carolina chefs passed over
Triangle chefs had been named semifinalists for Outstanding Baker, Rising Star Chef of the Year and Best Chef: Southeast.
Plus, James Beard Award winners Ashley Christensen, who owns Poole’s Diner and several other Raleigh restaurants, and Andrea Reusing were semifinalists in the Outstanding Chef category for the first time. They were the only North Carolina chefs out of 20 across the country who were nominated.
Gabe Barker of Pizzeria Mercato in Carrboro was the Rising Star nominee, which is awarded to a chef 30 years or younger.
Only four North Carolina chefs have won James Beard Awards while working in the state.
Christensen won Best Chef Southeast in 2014. Death and Taxes was a finalist in 2016 for Best New Restaurant. She has become known in Raleigh for her group of restaurants, which also includes Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, Chuck’s and Fox Liquor Bar. She also released her first cookbook last year, “Poole’s: Recipes and Stories From a Modern Diner.”
Reusing, of Lantern in Chapel Hill and The Durham Hotel, won Best Chef: Southeast in 2011.
Ben Barker, of the former Magnolia Grill in Durham, won Best Chef: Southeast in 2000, while his wife, Karen Barker, won a national award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2003. Gabe Barker is their son, and they’re involved in his restaurant’s operations.
North Carolina chefs compete in the Southeast region, which includes Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala will be May 1 in Chicago. The 2017 Media Awards (formerly known as the Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards) will be April 25 in New York City.
For a full list, go to jamesbeard.org/awards.