Kudos to the James Beard Foundation for its rapid and significant COVID-19 response. Since March, it's launched a relief fund for restaurants that’s raised over $4 million and unloaded a barrage of industry resources and webinars for struggling food and beverage businesses. Notably, the foundation has also had to postpone its “Oscars of the food world,” the James Beard Awards.

Today, May 4, is historically the big Restaurant & Chef Awards ceremony in Chicago. Instead, today the JBF announced its finalist nominees (originally slated to be announced March 16, when the scope of the pandemic was becoming all too clear) via Twitter, in informal, coronavirus-era fashion. There are no big surprises in this penultimate round, all nominees deserving of Beard gold. Best New Restaurant candidates include Portland Monthly’s 2019 Best Restaurant Eem and 2019 Rising Star of the Year Gado Gado. Best Chef NW nods included all repeat nominees from previous years (although current Top Chef All-Star Gregory Gourdet and baking champ Kristen Murray have only been a semi-finalists, never finalists.) The restaurant and chef awards will be announced on September 25, 2020. Check out the full list of locally connected nominees below.

Best New Restaurant
Eem
Gado Gado

Outstanding Bar Program
Expatriate

Outstanding Wine Program
Canard

Best Chef NW
Peter Cho, Han Oak
Gregory Gourdet, Departure
Katy Millard, Coquine
Kristen Murray, Maurice

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