Congratulations are in order, even if no one’s officially been nominated yet. The James Beard Awards, which gives top honors to those in the food and beverage industry nationwide, issued a list of first-ballot candidates in January that included several locals.
Though these aren’t nominations, just being on this preliminary list deserves a pat on the back.
William Bradley, chef de cuisine at the Golden Swan at the Hyatt Regency Resort at Gainey Ranch, shares space with 22 other chefs younger than 30 for the Gallo of Sonoma Rising Star Chef of the Year Award.
Bradley is getting recognition for his innovative make-your-own-tasting menu. He lets diners choose samples of four dishes off the ever-changing menu and sommeliers will personalize wine pairings, if desired.
Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician is up for outstanding service and outstanding wine service. For the service award, it’s up against 20 stalwarts like Emeril’s in New Orleans and Aqua in San Francisco. For wine service, it’s competing again with Emeril’s and 18 others.
In the only other national nod, Deseo is nominated for best new restaurant alongside 27 others. Douglas Rodriguez is the executive chef for Deseo, at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Phoenix. Known as the "King of Latin Cuisine," he also has eateries in Manhattan and Philadelphia and won a James Beard Award for Rising Chef of the Year in 1996.
Regionally, the Valley has three locals on the list of 20 potentials for the American Express Best Chef Southwest: Gregory Casale of Gregory’s World Bistro, Nobu Fukuda of Sea Saw and Chrysa Kaufman of Rancho Pinot Grill, all in Scottsdale. The Southwest region includes Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
All of these names are on the "long list"; the final short list of five nominees in each category will be announced March 11. Award winners will be announced May 10 at the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala in New York City.