The James Beard Awards (aka the Oscars of the American restaurant world) just announced its list of finalists this morning, with big nods to a trio of Portland chefs, baker Ken Forkish, and Portland Monthly's own food critic Karen Brooks.
Best Chef: Northwest finalist spots went to Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton (Ox), Katy Millard (Coquine), and Justin Woodward (Castagna). Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, who opened Revelry, one of PoMo's Rising Star restaurants last year, were recognized for their Seattle restaurant Joule.
Speaking of Brooks, Portland Monthly's food critic snagged one of the three finalist spots for the foundation's uber-prestigious Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award alongside Los Angeles Times legend Jonathan Gold and Eater National's Bill Addison. It's a big deal—like food writing Pulitzer big. "I'm in the company of two of my great heroes. It's like being nominated with Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington," says Brooks. This is the longtime local food critic's second nomination for the award—she was also a finalist in 2015.
Clyde Common, the Susan Lucci of the Outstanding Bar Program category, is a worthy finalist yet again. Local author and wine insider Katherine Cole, who was the Oregonian's wine critic for more than a decade, scored a well-deserved finalist nomination for her round table-style food and drink podcast The Four Top. Photographer Chris Court nabbed a spot for his work on Naomi Pomeroy's Taste & Technique cookbook.
When the JBF dropped its long list of semifinalists for the 2017 award season in February, Oregon crushed it, beating out last year’s record with 19 nominations, 16 of which belong to Portland establishments.
Check out the full list of local finalists below and read the 2016 Portland Monthly reviews that garnered Brooks a seat at the prize table: stories on Pizza Jerk, Chesa and 180, and the city's new brunch frontier led by Han Oak, Expatriate, and Thali Supper Club. And if you wanted to know more about Portland's connection to food legend James Beard, you can always eyeball our gigantic local food history package.
The 2017 James Beard Foundation restaurant award winners will be announced during JBF's May 1 award ceremony in Chicago. The 2017 James Beard Journalism winners will be announced on April 25, 2017 in NYC.
Best Chef: Northwest
Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox
Katy Millard, Coquine
Justin Woodward, Castagna
Ken Forkish, Ken’s Artisan Bakery
Outstanding Bar Program
Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award
The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home
(Ten Speed Press)
The Four Top
Host: Katherine Cole
Producers: Katherine Cole and Morgan Holm
Airs on: npr.org and iTunes
Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking
(Ten Speed Press)