This morning in Chicago, the James Beard Foundation announced the list of final nominations for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards. Last month, the foundation announced the long list of semifinalists -- a list that included six Arizona chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs.
Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek was the only Arizonan to make it to the final round for the last two years in the Best Chef Southwest, but failed to snag a win in the first two go-rounds. This year, he'll be up for the award once again.
Unfortunately, that means FnB Restaurant's chef, Charleen Badman, nominated for the first time in the Best Chef Southwest category, was left off the short list, as was Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe. Sam Fox of Fox Restaurant Concepts is also out of contention for the Outstanding Restaurateur award, which he's been nominated for in 2013 and 2012.
Chef Gio Osso's Virtu Honest Craft is out of the running for a Best New Restaurant award, while chef Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco is no longer on the hunt for the Outstanding Restaurant award.
For the Best Chef Southwest award, Binkley will go up against Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine in Austin, Hugo Ortega of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe in Houston, Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston, and Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston.
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The winners will be announced Monday, May 5 -- and we'll be crossing our fingers that the third time will be the charm for Binkley.
You can view the complete list of finalists on the James Beard Foundation website.