The list of semifinalists for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards have been revealed.
They call them the "Oscars" of the food world. The semifinalists were selected by a Restaurant and Chef Committee from over 44,000 online entries in 20 categories.
The state of Wisconsin is represented in many of the categories, and I'll take this time to introduce you to those who've made this first cut. The finalists will be announced March 18.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Forequarter, Madison. It's a restaurant run by a collective of underground professionals who pride themselves on local food, butchering and drink. They're located at 708 1/4 East Johnson Street.
OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee. Mixology is king at this classically-styled Brew City haunt. Over 450 cocktails that pairs the old with the new. Bryant's Cocktail Lounge is located at 1579 South 9th Street.
OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF
Elizabeth Dahl, Nostrano, Madison. Located at 111 South Hamilton Street, the restaurant features local, seasonal ingredients. The dessert menu is intricate, yet thoughtful and apparently executed to perfection given this high honor.
OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM
L’Etoile, Madison. Wine Director Michael Kwas says his list features artisans who shape their wines based on their specific growing season and unique circumstances. Over the years we have found certain regions and grape varietals that harmonize with the food of the Midwest and our own style of cooking. L'Etoile is located at 1 South Pinckney Street.
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
Daniel Bonanno, A Pig in a Fur Coat, Madison. According to a review in the Wisconsin State Journal, "executive chef Bonanno, formerly of the Italian restaurant Spiaggia in Chicago, likes rich, fatty meats, but he has a keen sense of balance and doesn’t overcomplicate quality ingredients. On Tuesdays, he sources from the Eastside Farmers Market one block away." I like the sound of that. A Pig in a Fur Coat is located at 940 Williamson Street.
BEST CHEF: MIDWEST
Justin Aprahamian, Sanford, Milwaukee. Winning a 4-diamond award from AAA, Chef Aprahamian recently bought the business from one of the Brew City's biggest names in the restaurant business, Sanford D'Amato. Sanford is located at 1547 North Jackson Street.
John Gadau and Phillip Hurley, Sardine, Madison. It features bistro dining and a lively bar scene on the shores of Lake Monona with two well-traveled and experienced chefs. Back in 2000, the pair opened Marigold Kitchen near the Capitol. Sardine is located at 617 Williamson Street.
David Swanson, Braise, Milwaukee. It's the Brew City's first community supported restaurant, which features locally sourced ingredients. It doubles as a culinary school and is open to the public. Braise is located 1101 South 2nd Street.