Food & Wine magazine is expanding its annual Best New Chef awards and partnering with CNN's Eatocracy to create a new award called "The People's Best New Chef." The winner, selected by online voting, will be featured in the magazine alongside the winners of this year's Best New Chef awards.
While the highly-coveted Best New Chef awards are decided by the magazine's editors, the The People's Best New Chef will, of course, have a populist bent. Nominees, from among 100 pre-selected chefs (the chef needs to have run their own kitchens for five years or fewer), will be voted on via an online poll at Eatocracy's website beginning tomorrow, February 15. The full list of chefs will also be released tomorrow.
Said F&W editor-in-chief Dana Cowin in a press release: "We're excited to give restaurant-goers across America a chance to give a giant shout-out to their favorite chef." And to that end, one would expect regional rivalries and massive get-out-the-vote-efforts on Twitter and Facebook. Even before the contest has officially launched, some chefs, including Stephanie Izard of Chicago's Girl & The Goat, have already mobilized their websites to encourage voting.
Other nominees who've jumped the gun and announced their inclusion in the competition include Michael Ginor (LOLA, Great Neck, NY), James Lewis (Bettola's, Birmingham, AL), James Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park, FL), and Andrew Curren (24 Diner, Austin, TX). Here's how it'll work:
Voting will run from February 15 through March 1, with ten chefs in ten regions. The chef with the most votes in each region will then be named a finalist. Then the chef with the most votes overall will be named The 2011 People's Best New Chef and will be featured in the July 2011 issue of Food & Wine alongside the winners of this year's Best New Chef awards. The press release also indicated that "Inclusion as a nominee for The People's Best New Chef award does not preclude consideration for a Best New Chef award."
Eatocracy's Kat Kinsman told us, "Best New Chefs holds a special place in our hearts. [Eatocracy's Associate Editor] Sarah LeTrent and I met because she won Dana Cowin's Best New Chefs Twitter competition way back in 2009 and introduced herself to me at the party. Eatocracy launched in Aspen while the BNC competition was in high gear, and that was some of the first reporting we did. Food & Wine is bringing some deeply deserving chefs to the table and we can't wait to let our wildly passionate audience have at 'em and cheer on their regional favorites."