Foreign-born chefs nominated for top U.S. award

Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:53pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Spanish tapas and Vietnamese pho are a world apart in origin and taste. Two chefs who have helped to popularize these dishes in the United States were nominated on Monday as tops in their field.

The James Beard Foundation said Spanish native Jose Andres who owns Minibar in Washington and Charles Phan who was born in Vietnam and operates The Slanted Door in San Francisco were nominated for its outstanding U.S. chef award.

"Our mission is to celebrate our culinary diversity, which reflects our diversity as a nation," said Susan Ungaro, the foundation's president.

The other three finalists were born in the United States and known for their contemporary American foods: Tom Colicchio of Craft in New York; Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles and Gary Danko with his namesake eatery in San Francisco.

The James Beard awards, established in 1990, are the most prestigious cooking honors in the United States. The nominations were announced in New Orleans, while the awards will be given in New York on May 2 and May 3.

This year's top restaurant nominees have familiar vibes: Italian (Babbo in New York and Spiaggia in Chicago); French (Daniel in New York) and American (Boulevard in San Francisco and Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama).

The top new U.S. eateries cited are mostly either in New York -- Marea and Locanda Verde, or San Francisco -- Flour + Water, Frances and RN74. Bibou in Philadelphia was also nominated as top new restaurant.

James Beard nominations have traditionally been dominated by chefs who specialize in American, French and Italian fares.   Continued...

<p>An undated handout photo of Charles Phan who was born in Vietnam and operates The Slanted Door in San Francisco. REUTERS/Frankie Frankey/Handout</p>