2015 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant + Chef Semifinalists

JBF Awards LogoOscars, schmoscars! Here at OpenTable, we’re all about the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards. This week, the James Beard Foundation released their list of semifinalists for nominations. Click here for a full list of nominated chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs, including the extensive regional nominations. The final nominees will be revealed on March 24th. Winners will be announced on May 4th at the awards ceremony, which is being held in Chicago for the first time ever. Congratulations to the semi-finalists (and to you, too, Windy City denizens) — and best of luck to all those who have made it this far.

Nominated restaurants include:

Best New Restaurant
Abe Fisher, Philadelphia
Alden & Harlow, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bâtard, New York, New York
Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas
Cosme, New York, New York
Edmund’s Oast, Charleston, South Carolina
Fiola Mare, Washington, D.C.
The Grey, Savannah, Georgia
Lusca, Atlanta, Georgia
Maude, Beverly Hills, California
Parachute, Chicago, Illinois
The Progress, San Francisco, California
San Salvaje, Dallas, Texas
Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Townsend, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Outstanding Restaurant
Acquerello, San Francisco, California
Bacchanalia, Atlanta. Georgia
La Belle Vie, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouir
Canlis, Seattle, Washington
Fore Street, Portland, Maine
Fork, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Greens Restaurant, San Francisco, California
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Per Se, New York, New York
Spiaggia, Chicago, Illinois
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York
Vidalia, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Service
Continue Reading

Culinary Couple Lee Chizmar + Erin Shea of Bolete Make the Most of Mondays

bolete photoWhen you blend two hospitality professionals with one successful restaurant and fold in two children, you’re not talking about a recipe that yields a ton of time for romance. Still, chef Lee Chizmar and general manager Erin Shea find ways to connect whenever they get the chance.

The owners of Bolete in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Chizmar and Shea opened their restaurant in 2008 to a steady stream of accolades, and the acclaim has kept them busy ever since. Shea says, “Honestly with a restaurant and two kids under four, there isn’t a lot of room left for reconnecting. We have Mondays off together and try to make sure that we spend that as a family, leaving date nights to few and far between. Romantic for us is if I stay awake long enough to make a sandwich for my husband and share a bottle of wine.  Literally a turkey sandwich.  I know it isn’t glamourous, but it is life right now.”

Uncorking a bottle of wine — and arguing its merits — is a common way Chizmar and Shea sneak in quality couple time. “We will often open a great bottle of wine, even if it isn’t a special occasion. We actually have very different tastes in wine (he is a California boy and I love old world), so great debate and conversation often go into these late night wine dates.  And, really, us both being awake is the special occasion,” she says.

Before starting their family and opening the doors at Bolete, Chizmar and Shea, a couple for the last nine years, dined their way around the northeast. “When we were first together, all our free time was spent enjoying food and drink. In Boston, we would go out to eat every night after work. And, pre-kiddos, we spent a lot of time traveling to New York when the restaurant was closed.” Prune is a perennial favorite of the pair. “The food is so delicious and simple,” notes Shea. They also enjoy discovering different restaurants in Philadelphia. Chef Chizmar’s recent birthday was spent at Townsend. “The cocktail program there is a standout, and I highly recommend heading to their bar for a drink and a snack.”

Continue Reading

The Duo Behind Dai Due in Austin Share Their Favorite Shareable Dish

t.j.fall2014(2)Dai Due opened in 2014, but its origins date back to 2006. The restaurant takes its name from the Italian adage, “Dai due regni di natura, piglia il cibo con misura,” which translates to “From the two kingdoms of nature, choose food with care.” Naturally, then, choosing food with care is the mantra at this popular Austin eatery and butcher shop specializing in the hyper local. Having built a solid reputation and loyal following over eight years as the Dai Due Supper Club and Farmers’ Market, the newish brick and mortar location in the Cherrywood neighborhood of Austin is keeping culinary couple Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield super busy. Happily, their dedication has paid off: Dai Due was just honored by the Austin Chronicle, being named First Plate Top 10s by both Brandon Watson and Virginia B. Wood and included on the Chronicle’s 2015 Top 100 Restaurants. Open six days a week, Dai Due occupies much of Griffiths and Mayfield’s time.

When they have time to cook at home together, Mayfield says, “It’s always roast chicken.” Together for a decade, she says that they also enjoy sharing a bottle of wine. “If we are doing wine, our favorite would be a bottle of Gigondas (that is what we were drinking when Jesse proposed at Chez Nous in Austin.).

Continue Reading

Jill + Joe Dobias of Joe & MissesDoe on Time off and Time Together

Working in New York City’s East Village, Joe and Jill Dobias, the team behind Joe & MissesDoe, have been in a relationship for 10 years, in business together for six and a half, and married for a year and a half. Joe is executive chef, while Jill manages the restaurant, including its acclaimed bar program. The restaurant is open six days a week, and the pair also operate JoeDough, a successful catering and events company. Like most restaurant couples, this doesn’t leave much time for – much.

Jill says, “Work is work for Joe and me, so even though we live together and work together, we don’t get to spend a lot of ‘couple’ time together. It’s important that on our day off we try to limit the ‘work talk’ and make sure we do ‘normal’ couple things like cook dinner, go out to dinner, and watch movies.”

When they find downtime together in their own Manhattan kitchen, the roles are reversed, with Jill stepping behind the burner. “I love to cook for Joe. He cooks for a living, and he totally appreciates when someone else does it for him. My favorite dish to cook for him is pork chops. It’s really funny because I’m a Jewish girl and I’m cooking the most treif meal possible. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of pork, so I guess I like the challenge. I get really creative, too, and make stuffed pork chops,” she shares with a laugh.

The pair are also sure to venture out to sample other notable restaurants in town. “Joe and I had an amazingly romantic meal at Upland. Chef Justin Smillie’s menu is outstanding. We ate at the bar at ten o’clock on a Monday night … and it was perfect.” Note to foodies: They give special shout outs to the live scallop dish and a chicken liver pasta.

Continue Reading