This morning, the James Beard Foundation released the list of 2016 James Beard Award semifinalists. Four Arizona names made the list — and if they look familiar, it's because they are. The two Arizona chefs, one restaurateur, and one restaurant named as semifinalists this year have been named semifinalists in the same categories for at least three years running.
Here they are:
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
Sam Fox, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Phoenix (The Arrogant Butcher, Culinary Dropout, Olive & Ivy, and others)
Best Chef: Southwest
Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale
Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s, Cave Creek
In 2014, Binkley and Badman were joined by chef Silvana Salcido Esparza on the list of chefs nominated for the Best Chef: Southwest award, which recognizes "chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions." Last year, Binkley and Badman were the only two Arizona chefs to make the list, and Binkley has been the only Arizona chef to be named a finalist in the awards for the last two years.
Sam Fox, nominated for an award that recognizes "a working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship," has been named a semifinalist in the category every year since 2008.
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Often referred to as the "long list," the list of James Beard Award semifinalists comes together after the foundation's Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee (a group composed of critics, writers, and editors) makes selections from a list of names gathered during an online open call. This list will then be narrowed down to a much shorter selection of award finalists that will be announced on Tuesday, March 15, in San Francisco.
Winners will be announced at the 2016 James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2.
To see the complete list of James Beard Award semifinalists for 2016, visit the James Beard Foundation website.