The James Beard Awards

By MarcusSamuelsson.com Editors

Even as the Oscars come to a close, a different awards season is heating up. On Thursday, February 17th, the James Beard Foundation announced the 2011 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards now include multiple categories: Restaurant and Chef Awards, Journalism Awards, Broadcast Media Awards, and Design and Graphic Awards. Every fall, the Foundation puts out an online call for nominees. This year, there were nearly 28,000 nominees. A committee cuts that group to a much shorter ballot, which the ballot then sends to hundreds of past winners, panelists, and subcommittee members.

The culinary world will hold its breath on March 21st when the semifinalists will be winnowed down to a group of finalists. Until then, food enthusiasts and the nominees themselves can only speculate with excitement as to the final results.

Check out the James Beard Foundation's website for more information.