When the initial James Beard Awards list is released each February, I always scan for restaurants and chefs from my area, New Jersey and Philadelphia. There are usually several in this semifinalist list, but by the time it has been whittled down to finalists, many of my local nominees will have disappeared.

This year, will it play out differently? Six Philadelphia nominees are included in this year's James Beard Award nominees, and I'll be rooting for each to take home an award.

This year's gala will take place in Chicago on May 1, and the foundation will livestream the ceremony, which focuses on restaurants and chefs. The Media Awards (formerly called the Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards) will be held in New York City on April 25.

And the nominees are...

james beard award medallion The most coveted award in food is the James Beard Award. (Photo: James Beard Foundation/Facebook)

The entire list of awards and nominees is very long. Here are a few of the highlights:

Best New Restaurant — opened in the calendar year before the award will be given

  • In Situ, San Francisco
  • Le Coucou, New York City
  • Olmstead, Brooklyn, New York
  • Pineapple and Pearls, Washington, D.C.
  • Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef — an American chef whose career sets industry standards and inspires other food professionals

  • Gabrielle Hamilton, Prune, New York City
  • David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, California
  • Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, California
  • Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
  • Michael Solomon, Zahav, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurant — a U.S. restaurant that's a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in operation for 10 or more years

  • Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
  • Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York City
  • Quince, San Francisco
  • The Spotted Pig, New York City
  • Topolobampo, Chicago

American Cooking (Media Award)

  • "Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South" by Vivian Howard
  • "My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen" by Asha Gomez and Martha Hall Foose
  • "Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes" by Ronni Lundy

MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award (Media Award)

  • “The Dog Thief Killings” by Calvin Godfrey for Roads & Kingdoms
  • "Good Graces" by Carolyn Phillips for Life and Thyme
  • "Sonoko Dreams of Soba" by Francis Lam for Saveur

If the celebrity-ish side of the food world fascinates you, or if you have favorite restaurants in your region and you want to see if they received nominations, check out the full list. In addition to Outstanding Chef Award, there are Regional Chef Awards so that chefs all around the country aren't necessarily competing with chefs in celebrated food cities like New York, San Francisco — and dare I say it, Philadelphia.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Is your favorite restaurant on the James Beard Award finalist list?
The 2017 finalist list is out for the James Bear Awards — the 'Oscars' of the food world.