by Ian Froeb
The James Beard Foundation has opened the nominations for its 2013 awards. Through December 31, anyone -- me, you, even your dog (if he has his own email address) -- can nominate up to two candidates in each category.
The main category for which St. Louis restaurants are eligible is "Best Chef: Midwest". In 2012, four local chefs made the list of semifinalists: Gerard Craft of Niche (currently relocating to Clayton), Josh Galliano of the now-shuttered Monarch (7401 Manchester Road, Maplewood), Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Café (2000 Sidney Street; 314-771-5777) and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus (3257 Ivanhoe Avenue; 314-647-3800).
Craft made the cut of five finalists for the third time in four years, but lost to Tory Miller of L'Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin.
"Best New Restaurant" is a tough category to crack, as it applies to restaurants nationwide. Last year, however, Salt (4356 Lindell Boulevard; 314-932-5787) made the list of semifinalists, the first St. Louis establishment to do so.
Other categories open to restaurant professionals nationwide include "Outstanding Restaurant", "Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional", "Outstanding Bar Program" and "Rising Star Chef of the Year," which the foundation describes as "a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come."