For foodies across the United States, there’s no list quite as exciting as that of the James Beard Award Semifinalists. In the Hudson Valley, said list, which dropped on February 26 this year, is nothing short of remarkable for the local chefs ranked within it. That’s right! In 2020, not one, but five Hudson Valley chefs have been named James Beard Award Semifinalists for Best Chef: New York State.
While the honor is impressive in itself, it’s particularly noteworthy when one considers the fact that the Best Chef category encompasses all of New York State, including the entirety of New York City.
Can you guess which local names earned top rankings?
In Hudson, Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo, the creative culinarians behind Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, earned their second nomination in the span of two years (read about their 2019 nomination for Best Chef: Northeast here). Moving south, Albert Bartley of Top Taste in Kingston earned a shout for his mouthwatering Jamaican fare.
Down in Westchester, leading chef and restaurateur David DiBari received recognition for his highly delectable, highly Instagrammable dishes at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry. Nearby, O Mandarin’s Eric Gao rounds out the list of Hudson Valley semifinalists in Hartsdale.
So what comes next? Now that the semifinalist list, which includes categories ranging from “new” (best chef by region, for instance) to “outstanding” (bakery, bar program, restaurant) and considers chefs and restaurants from across the 50 states, is out in the world, nominees have to bite their nails in anticipation until March 25, when the James Beard Foundation reveals the finalists during a 9 a.m. live stream. After that, the foundation announces its big winners at The James Beard Awards Gala, which celebrates its 30th anniversary, on May 4.
Do you think any Hudson Valley chefs will make it to the next round? With an increased focus on geographic diversity (New York State chefs are now in a separate category from Northeast chefs but part of the same category as New York City chefs), this year’s awards boast more Best Chef nominees and, ultimately, winners. While we can’t promise the winner for Best Chef: New York will be from the Hudson Valley (although we can certainly hope with all our hearts), we can say that the anticipation is more than a little delicious.
Have you dined at any of these James Beard-nominated restaurants in the Hudson Valley? Share your experience in the comments!