This morning the James Beard Foundation announced the chef and restaurant award finalists for their annual awards program, which will be presented at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall on May 6. The Beard Awards have long been considered the most prestigious culinary awards presented in America, due both to its legacy (they’ve been given since 1990) and a judging panel made up of industry experts and peers — as opposed to say journalists or anonymous inspectors.  

In continuing a cool recent tradition, the finalists were announced at a luncheon held in what the Foundation determines as one of the country’s culinary hot spots — this time around, in Charleston, South Carolina. We hear the after-party is at Mr. Brock’s house. Well, not really, but we’re sure the bourbon is flowing down there, as well as Champagne in the kitchens and restaurant back offices of all the finalists. Congrats to those who made the list.

[Complete list of the semifinalists]

Outstanding Wine Program: A16, The Barn at Blackberry Farm, CityZen at Mandarin Oriental, Frasca Food and Wine, Picasso

Outstanding Bar Program: The Aviary, Bar Agricole, NoMad, Holeman Finch & Public House, Pegu Club, The Violet Hour

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jimmy Bannos, Jr., Danny Bowien, Thomas McNaughton, David Posey, Blaine Wetzel

Best New Restaurant: Empellón Cocina, Grace, The Ordinary, Rich Table, State Bird Provisions

Best Chef NYC: April Bloomfield, Wylie Dufresne, Mark Ladner, Jonathan Waxman, Michael White

Best Chef Northeast: Jamie Bissonnette, Joanne Chang, Gerry Hayden, Melissa Kelly, Barry Maiden

Best Chef Mid-Atlantic: Cathal Armstrong, Spike Gjerde, Johnny Monis, Brad Spence, Vikram Sunderam

Best Chef Southeast: Ashley Christensen, Edward Lee, Joseph Lenn, Steven Satterfield, Tandy Wilson

Best Chef South: Justin Devillier, Jeff McInnis, Tory McPhail, Alon Shaya, Sue Zemanick

Best Chef Midwest: Justin Aprahamian, Gerard Craft, Colby Garrelts, Michelle Gayer, Jack Riebel

Best Chef Great Lakes: Dave Beran, Stephanie Izard, Jonathon Sawyer, Paul Virant, Andrew Zimmerman

Best Chef Northwest: Jason Franey, Naomi Pomeroy, Gabriel Rucker, Ethan Stowell, Cathy Whims

Best Chef Southwest: Kevin Binkley, Bryce Gilmore, Jennifer Jasinski, Hugo Ortega, Chris Shepherd

Best Chef West: Chris Cosentino, Christopher Kostow, Corey Lee, Daniel Patterson, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Dominique Ansel, Melissa Chou, Ken Forkish, Hedy Goldsmith, Brooks Headley

Outstanding Restaurateur: Maguy Le Coze, Donnie Madia, Piero Selvaggio, Carolyn Styne, Phil Suarez

Outstanding Restaurant: August, Blue Hill, Highlands Bar and Grill, The Slanted Door, Spiaggia

Outstanding Chef: Sean Brock, David Chang, Gary Danko, Suzanne Goin, Paul Kahan, Nancy Silverton