Over breakfast at the Beard House in Greenwich Village, James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro announced the final nominees for the 25th annual James Beard awards.
Among the list of names was Asheville’s own John Fleer, chef at Rhubarb, downtown’s upscale farm-to-table eatery. In 1999, the foundation named Fleer one of its “Rising Stars of the 21st Century.” This is Fleer’s fourth time being nominated for “Best Chef of the Southeast,” but he hasn’t taken home the gold — yet.
Fleer advanced to the semifinals of the category in February with two other Asheville contenders: Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani and Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell. But in the end, there could only be one.
The nominations, announced Tuesday, March 24, spanned five different awards programs through the foundation — book awards, broadcast media awards, journalism awards, outstanding restaurant design awards and restaurant and chef awards — covering 59 categories.
The Rhubarb chef takes on five other contenders in the Southeast for the 2015 awards’ final round: Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta, Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston, both Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis, and Tandy Wilson from City House in Nashville.
The winners of these awards will be held in the highest of culinary esteem, as they were chosen from a pool of roughly 35,000 applicants from across the country. The winners will be announced on May 4 at the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception, taking place at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and hosted by Food Network chef Alton Brown.
For more information about the awards and other nominees, click here.