James Beard Awards semi-finalists

I remember when most people outside North Carolina thought there was nothing in this state but barbecue and bootleg liquor. Now, the state has real chef cred. Nine North Carolina chefs are among the 20 semi-finalists for Best Chef-Southeast in the James Beard Awards. The names were announced today.

The chefs are: Ashley Christensen, Poole’s, Raleigh; Scott Crawford, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary; Scott Howell, Nana’s, Durham; Shane Ingram, Four Square, Durham; Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill; Chip Smith, Bonne Soiree, Chapel Hill; Aaron Vandemark, Panciuto, Hillsborough; John Fleer, Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley, Cashiers; and Keith Rhodes, Catch, Wilmington.

Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill in Durham is a semi-finalists for Outstanding Chef, a nationwide award.

Finalists will be announced on March 21 with the winners to be named in May. Go out this weekend and show our own star chefs the love. For more information on the James Beard Foundation and the awards, visit here.