(This is the second year in a row that Wilson has landed in the Southeast semis. Last year a former Nashville chef, Sean Brock — previously at Capitol Grille and now at McCrady's in S.C. — won the category.)
Wilson is the only Tennessee chef nominated in the Southeast division this year. In the Outstanding Wine Service category, sommelier Andy Chabot of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., got a nod. Go here to see the full list.
Unless you're one of the 550 judges on the James Beard panel, you don't have any say in how far Tandy Wilson will advance. But you can participate in the The People's Best New Chef in the Southeast honor. Vote here, and vote now. The balloting ends March 1.
At this writing, Wilson is in third place out of 10 competitors, with 12.45 percent of the vote. Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill is first with 27.8 percent of the vote, and Ryan Trimm of Sweet Grass in Memphis is second with 17.31 percent. Get out the vote, Nashvillians!
As for the James Beard semifinalists, there are plenty of names that Nashvillians might know, including Nick Pihakis of the Jim 'N Nick’s Bar-B-Q chain based in Birmingham, Ala., who has a high profile in our town because of his work with the Southern Foodways Alliance. He's up for Outstanding Restaurateur.
Two chefs who came to Nashville in June to join the Taking Nashville to Higher Ground flood benefit are among the Southeast semifinalists: John Fleer of Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers, N.C., and Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta.
Fleer has strong Tennessee ties — he was chef at Blackberry Farm for many years.
The James Beard Award finalists will be announced March 21, and the winners will be honored at the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala on May 9 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York.