February 19, 2014

NC chefs named James Beard Foundation semifinalists

Triangle-based chefs Ashley Christensen, Matt Kelly, Scott Howell and others are on the "short list" to be potential James Beard finalists. The awards are known as the Oscars of the food world.

Ten chefs and restaurants in North Carolina have been named semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards -- what are known as the Oscars of the food world.

Among the semifinalists:

Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

The Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro for Outstanding Restaurant.

Giorgios Bakatsias of Durham for Outstanding Restauranteur.

Katie Button of Curate in Asheville for Rising Star Chef.

And among the semifinalists for Best Chef Southeast are Colin Bedford of The Fearrington House Inn; Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Downtown Diner and other Raleigh restaurants; Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, N.C.; Scott Crawford of Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary; Scott Howell of Nana’s in Durham; Matt Kelly of Vin Rouge and Mateo Tapas in Durham; and Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough.

The James Beard Foundation will name the finalists at an event March 18 in Chicago. On May 5, the foundation will announce the winners at a red carpet event at Lincoln Center in New York City. To see the entire list of semifinalists, go to

The foundation is named after James Beard, a television food personality and cookbook author who was an early champion of regional American cuisine.

One note: Andrea Weigl serves as the chair of the foundation’s book awards subcommittee.

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