Philly picks up few James Beard nominations

Bar at Tria Taproom, 2005 Walnut St. (Photo: Holley Robbins)

For all the hometown pride that surrounded February's announcement of the James Beard Foundation's list of semifinalists, today's release of the actual finalists is a slap in the face.

The 215 has been overlooked again by Beard voters.

Dozens of Philadelphians studded the big list of semifinalists. Of the 30 semifinalists for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region, 9 had Philly ties.

But when that list was whittled to 5 names today, only Brad Spence was in the running from Philly. Not to belittle Spence's achievements - he is not only a masterful chef and key player in Marc Vetri's orbit, but he invented the rotolo at Pizzeria Vetri - but really, Beard? There's no one else deserving of even the list of finalists?

Baltimore was able to field two of the five nominated chefs.

Philly, the largest food town in the Mid-Atlantic region, had its last winner in Michael Solomonov in 2011. The 2010 winner was Spence's Vetri-mate Jeff Michaud, while 2009's winner was Jose Garces.

Congrats are in order to Marc Vetri's inclusion in the category of outstanding chef; to Vetri for best service; to Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head for beverage professional; and in the small-restaurant design category, to Assimilation Design Lab LLC and Otto Architects LLC (aka Josh Otto and David Whipple) for their work on Tria Taproom.

Winners will be announced May 5.