Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
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It has become an annual rite of spring - the unveiling of the list of New Orleans chefs named among the semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation awards, considered the Oscars of the food world. This year, there are plenty.
Chef and restaurant owner Donald Link of Cochon and Herbsaint is a nominee for outstanding chef, competing against chefs from across the country. His newest venture, Peche, is also nominated for best new restaurant. Peche chef and co-owner Ryan Prewitt is also a semifinalist for Best Chef: South.
The list released Wednesday includes several locals in that chef category, which covers Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas and Puerto Rico. Louisiana semifinalists are Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, Alon Shaya of Domenica, Michael Stoltzfus of Coquette, Isaac Toups of Toups' Meatery and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's. Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace won the category last year.
Among the other local nominees, Brigtsen's is nominated for outstanding service and Upperline proprietor JoAnn Clevenger, for outstanding restaurateur.
Cure and Arnaud's French 75 are nominated for outstanding bar program. The Windsor Court's Grill Room is a semifinalist for outstanding wine program. Ann Rogers Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, is nominated as outstanding wine, beer or spirits professional.
The list of semifinalists will be narrowed down to five nominees in each category. Those finalists will be announced March 18. The winners will be unveiled May 5.