Madison’s James Beard Award semifinalists

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L’Etoile, the star | Photo by 608today team

After a two year hiatus, the James Beard Awards are back. Think Pulitzer or Golden Globe — but for food.

The foundation announced its list of 2022 semifinalists, breaking down nominations into categories that celebrate both individuals and restaurants.

With two major nominations right here on the Isthmus — and plenty more around the state — let’s get to know these local culinary creatives and explore the history of James Beard in Madison.

🏆 2022 nominees

Outstanding Wine Program

  • Capitol square favorite L’Etoile has been nominated for the inspiring work by in-house wine director Michael Kwas. The award is a culmination of 30+ years working with L’Etoile, moving from the dish tank to the bar and then into the world of wine —

Best Chef Midwest

  • Chef Daniel Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat won a nomination for his bistro opened in 2012 serving Mediterranean-inspired small + large plate comfort food. In a conversation with The Cap Times, the chef noted how thrilled and honored the team is“The front of house, back of house, the whole restaurant. We’ve all been through a lot these past couple years. It means a lot that people are paying attention, and we’re getting through this.”

🏆 Past James Beard winners

In 2012, L’Etoile chef Tory Miller won the James Beard best chef in the Midwest award — an honor that had previously been won by his mentor + former head chef of L’Etoile, Odessa Piper. Over the past two decades, the restaurant has seen six nominations across multiple categories from the foundation.

Other local favorites + previous nominees:

  • Sean Pharr of Atwood’s Mint Mark claimed a best chef midwest nomination in 2020 for his small-plates + rotating menus.
  • Jonny Hunter + Maggie Roovers both earned nominations for the best chef midwest award for their work at Forequarter — now Hone — in 2019.
  • Dan Fox cooked up a best chef midwest nomination in 2017 for his work with local and sustainable ingredients at Heritage Tavern.
  • Francesco Mangano of Osteria Papavero earned his best chef midwest nomination for his italian fare in 2016.

For now, sit back, grab a glass of wine — hopefully selected by Michael Kwas — and know that the 608 has plenty of incredible eats to curb your appetite until winners are announced in June.

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