New Orleans Boasts Six Nominations for 2011 James Beard Awards

The nominees for this year’s James Beard Awards were announced today, and New Orleans’ restaurants and chefs tallied six nominations all together. The awards are given out annually in May by the James Beard Foundation, and are widely regarded as the most prestigious culinary awards.

Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's. James Beard Award Nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's, James Beard Award Nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Photo by Eugenia Uhl.

Chef Emeril Legasse leads the local pack with two nominations: his flagship restaurant Emeril’s is nominated for the Outstanding Service Award, and “Emeril’s Culinary Adventure: Vermont, Milk War, The Four Coursemen,” an episode of his show Emeril Green, is up for Best Television Special/Documentary.

Sue Zemanick, chef at Gautreau’s, received her third nomination in a row for the high-profile Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, given to chefs 30 years old or younger. Zemanick will also be appearing as one of 12 contestants on the upcoming season of the TV show Top Chef Masters.

In addition, John Harris of Lilette, Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, and Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon took three of the five nominations for Best Chef in the South (there are also Best Chef: Southeast and Best Chef: Southwest categories).

While Leah Chase of Dooky Chase Restaurant, Susan Spicer of Bayona, and Paul C.P. McIlhenny of the McIlhenny Company, makers of Tabasco, were recognized last year in the James Beard Awards’ Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, recent years have not been as kind to local nominees. The last Louisianan to beat his or her competitors in one of the main categories was Donald Link in 2007, who won Best Chef in the South for his work at Herbsaint.