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February 17, 2011

Vermont Chefs Nominated for James Beard Honors

Food-duino1 This morning the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its über-prestigious JBF Awards for the best chefs and restaurants in the United States.

Though Vermont didn't garner any nominations in the biggest categories such as Best New Restaurant (Bluebird Tavern made last year's cut) or Outstanding Chef (generally reserved for superstars), three Green Mountain cooks are in the running for Best Chef: Northeast.

For the third year in a row, Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill is a nominee. He was among the select group of Vermont chefs invited to cook last March at the James Beard House in New York City. He worked in that kitchen again in the fall, representing chefs with recipes in the book Harvest to Heat: Cooking With America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans.

New nominees include Jason Gulisano of the Green Cup in Waitsfield and Nathaniel Wade (right) of Burlington's ¡Duino! (Duende). Though I wrote this week about the fantastic new food at the tiny café, Wade's nomination comes as something of a surprise — the chef has only been at ¡Duino! (Duende) since December.

Conspicuously absent are Steve and Lara Atkins of the Kitchen Table Bistro. The fine dining dynamic duo were nominated the past two years and cooked with Warnstedt at the Beard House Team Vermont dinner.

I already wrote a personal thanks to Alice for the tip about the new menu at ¡Duino! (Duende). We went the night her column came out and I have to agree it was one of the more satisfying meals out I've had in a long time. My husband is a fantastic cook, so the value proposition really matters to me --- e.g. Could we have taken the $80 we just spent and eaten as well or better at home? Usually is answered resoundingly Yes. But not after Duino. The Korean BBQ pork dumpling! The Chicken and Waffle! Just incredible, and even my home-chef couldn't do something like that. I'm looking forward to what happens when fresh produce starts appearing locally. Even more yum, I'm sure.

That is one sexy man who I enjoy losing money to.

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