Despite having Madison-based semifinalists in two categories this year, Madison has been snubbed by the 2018 James Beard Awards. The annual awards, often described as the Oscars of the food world, are given out to restaurants, chefs, and food media around the country.
The list of finalists, announced today, excluded L’Etoile for Outstanding Restaurant and Jonny Hunter of Forequarter for Best Chef: Midwest. This was the third year that Hunter was nominated in that category, and the second year in a row L’Etoile was up for Outstanding Restaurant. L’Etoile’s Tory Miller won the Best Chef: Midwest category in 2012 and was nominated for Outstanding Chef in 2016.
Wisconsin wasn’t completely excluded from the awards this year, though: Milwaukee has two finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Chef Karen Bell of Bavette la Boucherie, a butcher and restaurant combination, is a newcomer to the Awards. Justin Carlisle is also being recognized for his work at Ardent, a casual, cozy fine dining restaurant that’s one of the best in Milwaukee. This is the fourth year in a row he’s been nominated in the category.
Interestingly, the other three finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category are all from Minneapolis, so it’s shaping up to be a real border battle. Will Wisconsin’s chefs show up to the awards in Chicago wearing cheeseheads? Find out May 7 during the live awards broadcast.