The 2015 semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards have been announced, with Philadelphia holding its own on the list with over twenty of the city’s finest chefs and restaurants earning a place on the coveted list of culinary excellence.
Andre Chin and Amanda Eap, of Artisan Boulanger Patissier (1218 Mifflin St., Philadelphia, 215.271.4688) are acknowledged in the “Outstanding Baker” category—a fitting honor for the duo whose mouthwatering menu includes chocolate bread, classic strawberry shortcake, and an assortment of fruit-filled croissants. Kate Jacoby, of Vedge (1221 Locust St., Philadelphia, 215.320.7500) also takes the cake and makes it too, with her nomination for “Outstanding Pastry Chef”; her palatable dishes include Yuzu custard and Meyer Lemon cheesecake.
Speakeasy-styled The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (112 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, 267.467.3277) is in the running for “Outstanding Bar Program,” thanks in part to its seven course cocktail tasting menu, with drinks inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine.
East Passyunk Avenue, named one of the “Top 10 Foodie Streets in America” by Food & Wine Magazine, is home to three of the restaurants recognized. Townsend (1623 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 267.639.3203), A “Best New Restaurant” nominee, dishes out flavorful French cuisine, while Joe Cicala, of Le Virtú (1927 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 215.271.5626) and Nicholas Elmi, of Laurel (1617 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 215.271.8299) are in the running for the prestigious “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.”
Other chefs considered for the honor of “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” include Pierre Calmels, of Bibou (1009 S. Eighth St., Philadelphia, 215.965.8290); Rich Landau, of Vedge (1221 Locust St., Philadelphia, 215.320.7500); Konstantinos Pitsillides, of Kanella (1001 Spruce St., Philadelphia, 215.922.1773); and Greg Vernick, of Vernick Food & Drink (2031 Walnut St., Philadelphia, 267.639.6644).
“Rising Star of the Year” nominations were awarded to High Street on Market’s (308 Market St., Philadelphia, 215.625.0988) Alex Bois, who uses food science to experiment with and innovate bread-baking, and Jon Nodler, of a.kitchen (135 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, 215.825.7030), where the savory dishes are cooked over a smoldering fire.
Stop into the innovative havens of “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” nominees Tom Peters, of Monk’s Café (264 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, 215.545.7005) and Steve Wildy, of the Vetri Family, to find out why Peters is considered the Godfather of Belgium Beer and what exactly Wildy’s bottled cocktails taste like.
Previous Philadelphia winners include Michael Solomonov and Marc Vetri, who both won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, in 2011 and 2005 respectively; the two seasoned chefs are semifinalists for the Outstand Chef category for 2015. Solomonov’s restaurant Abe Fisher (1623 Sansom St., Philadelphia, 215.867.0088) is also in the running for “Best New Restaurant.”
The final nominees will be announced on March 24, and the 2015 James Beard Gala will take place at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 4.