The highly anticipated announcement of this year's finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards (jbfawards.com) counts some of wine country's brightest stars among its honorees. Dubbed "the Oscars of the food world" by TIME Magazine, the "JBF" awards have been recognizing North America's top food and beverage professionals, broadcast journalists, authors and restaurant designers since 1990 at their annual awards gala at Lincoln Center. Past recipients include Jacques Pépin, Joel Robuchon, Thomas Keller and Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards - to name just a few.
This year's selection committee smiled kindly on wine country, singling out several stellar individuals and institutions from right here in our own backyard for the awards to be given out in early June. The venerable Douglas Keane of Cyrus in Healdsburg snared a much-deserved nomination for Best Chef in the Pacific Region, Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville is being considered for Best Pastry Chef, and Terra Restaurant in St. Helena is up for the Best Service award. And as befits the focus on - what else?! - wine in wine country, Calistoga-based vintner Merry Edwards has been nominated for this year's Outstanding Wine Professional. Congrats and best of luck to all of you!