This year’s list of semifinalists, which is the publication’s first to be framed as a national roundup that includes all U.S. markets in a single list, consists of 60 nominees. Previously, Zagat nominated and organized the contest by city.
For 2017, Zagat named three Philly chefs in their nominations: Neuf sous/pastry chef Malik Ali, 26; CooknSolo restaurants sous-chef Caitlin McMillan, 28; and Royal Sushi & Izakaya chef-owner Jesse Ito, 28.
As Zagat notes in a blog announcing the semifinalists, the selections were made following an open call in January that took suggestions from readers, editors, industry professionals, and past honorees. Qualifications for inclusion included being under 30, working in the food industry, and what Zagat refers to as “undeniable awesomeness.”
Zagat will release a paired down list of semifinalists in June, cutting the number from 60 to 45. The final 30 Under 30 list for 2017 will be unveiled in September.