The James Beard Foundation gives awards in several categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, broadcast media, and restaurant design and graphics. Rodney Scott, pitmaster at Rodney Scott’s BBQ, was named the best chef in the Southeast last year, and Fig in downtown Charleston won the award for outstanding wine program.
This year, the Charleston-area semi-finalists are:
- Cynthia Wong of the food truck Life Raft Treats for outstanding pastry chef
- Fig for outstanding restaurant
- Steve Palmer, managing partner of the hospitality group The Indigo Road, for outstanding restaurateur
- Stems & Skins in North Charleston for outstanding wine program
- Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell of High Wire Distilling Co. for outstanding wine, spirits or beer producer
- Evan Gaudreau of Renzo in downtown Charleston for rising star chef of the year
- Kevin Johnson of The Grocery in downtown Charleston for best chef in the Southeast
- Jacques Larson of The Obstinate Daughter in Sullivan’s Island for best chef in the Southeast
A voting body of 300 previous James Beard Award winners; 250 panelists divided evenly among the award regions; and the 18 members of the award subcommittee will vote on the approximately 20 semifinalists in each category over the next several weeks. The five semifinalists with the most votes will become the finalists. Finalists will be announced on March 27, after which the same voting body will select the winners.
The 2019 James Beard Awards Gala, where winners are announced, will take place on May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.