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JBFA Semifinalists to Be Announced Live in February

The James Beard Foundation has announced that the semifinalists for the 2014 James Beard Awards will be revealed in a live press conference happening in Orlando, Florida. On February 19, the organization will announce the semifinalists for every chef and restaurant category and apparently this is the first time the semifinalists have ever been announced live.

From the list of semifinalists, a committee will decide on a list of finalists to be announced on March 18. The awards ceremony will take place in May in New York City's Lincoln Center, as it has in years past. The James Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in America and this year's big winners included David Chang, Paul Kahan, Danny Bowien, Brooks Headley, and many others. Check out the press release below for more details:

JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION TEAMS UP WITH VISIT ORLANDO TO ANNOUNCE 2014 AWARD SEMIFINALISTS IN FLORIDA

New York, NY (December 20, 2013) – The James Beard Foundation and the official tourism association Visit Orlando announced today that it will reveal the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists at a live press conference in Orlando, Florida, on February 19, 2014. This is the first time the semifinalists will be announced at a live event.

"We're thrilled to give special and well-deserved recognition to semifinalists this year," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "With a flourishing farm-to-table movement and a growing independent restaurant scene, Orlando provides a fitting setting for our first live semifinalist announcement."

Twenty Semifinalists in each Restaurant and Chef award category will be revealed at a 10 A.M. press conference and breakfast at East End Market (3201 Corrine Drive, Orlando, Florida), a community food hub for entrepreneurs, tradespeople, artists and chefs. On the evening before the press conference, a ticketed dinner will be held at the Alfond Inn at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and will feature a prestigious group of Orlando's past James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists including: Kathleen Blake (Rusty Spoon and Pine22), Scott Hunnel (Victoria & Albert's), Brandon McGlamery (Luma on Park and Prato), James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder), Kevin Fonzo (K Restaurant), Henry Salgado (Txokos Basque Kitchen and Spanish River Grill) and Hari Pulapaka (Cress Restaurant). Proceeds from the dinner will support the James Beard Foundation and tickets can be purchased here. Registration will open on Friday, December 20 at 9 A.M.

"Orlando is the perfect destination to host the James Beard Foundation's first live semifinalist announcement," said George Aguel, president & CEO of Visit Orlando. "Our diverse collection of high-quality restaurants and chefs has created a vibrant culinary scene that is receiving national recognition." In 2013, Orlando led Florida as the city with the most JBF award semifinalists; during the same year, Zagat also published its first Orlando City Guide.

Semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary industry's most prestigious recognition program, are selected from thousands of online entries, a process that's overseen by a committee of industry professionals. After a first round of voting by committee members, judges and previous winners, the semifinalists are then narrowed down to a final list of official nominees, which will be announced in March 2014. The JBF Restaurant & Chef Awards comprise 20 categories representing a wide variety of culinary talent, from exceptional chefs and dining destinations in 10 regions across the U.S., to the nation's top wine and spirits professionals, best new restaurants, and rising star chefs.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will take place at Lincoln Center in New York City on Monday, May 5. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, and the America's Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation's mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.

· All James Beard Awards Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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