Every year when the James Beard Foundation announces the semifinalists for its restaurant and chef awards, I comb the list to see if any of my favorite local restaurants, chefs and restaurateurs made the list.

I’m pleased to see so many of Philadelphia’s great restaurants make the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalist list year, and for the second year in a row, the very-local-to-me small Collingswood, N.J. restaurant, Zeppoli, is on the list, this time for its chef Joey Baldino in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. 

The great thing about the James Beard Foundation Awards is that they cover the entire country. There are categories for outstanding chef and outstanding restaurant that encompass the country overall. There are also regional best chef and best restaurant categories along with several other categories that make it possible for great chefs and great restaurants anywhere in the country to get noticed.

The Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in the country. In addition to the restaurant and chef awards, the foundation also awards cookbook authors, food journalists, restaurant designers, architects and more. Nominees in these categories are announced at a later time.

The semifinalist list will be narrowed down to specific nominees on March 18. The award winners in the restaurant and chef categories will be announced on May 6 at an Awards Gala & Reception at Lincoln Center in New York City. The Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards Dinner will be held on May 3 in New York City.

Do you take the time to scan the James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalist list each year, or do the “Oscars of the food world” not interest you?

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