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Silvana Salcido Esparza, Kevin Binkley, Sam Fox, Vincent on Camelback, and ShinBay Announced as Semifinalists for 2012 James Beard Awards

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Today, the James Beard Foundation, the New York-based national nonprofit organization and undisputed standard of excellence when it comes to giving props to the culinary world, announced its semifinalists for the 2012 JBF Restaurant and Chefs Awards -- and the Valley is seeing some sweet Beard love.

Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner and chef of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen, and chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant and Café Bink have both been nominated for Best Chef: Southwest. (Chef John Sharpe, of The Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel & Gardens in Winslow, Arizona, also is on the list.)

Read on for the rest of the Valley candidates, their categories, and to see the complete list.

Sam Fox, of Scottsdale-based Fox Restaurant Concepts, has been nominated in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur; Vincent on Camelback, chef Vincent Guerithault's French restaurant in Central Phoenix, has been nominated for Outstanding Restaurant; and Scottsdale's ShinBay, the low-profile Japanese eatery from chef Shinji Kurita, has been nominated for Best New Restaurant.

Tucson nods go to chef Janos Wilder of Janos, who was nominated in the category of Outstanding Chef.

On March 19, the James Beard Foundation will announce the narrowed down list of Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominees for its Book; Journalism; Restaurant Graphics and Design; and Broadcast and New Media Awards.

Better make those reservations now.

See the complete list here.

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