The 2017 James Beard nominations—for excellence in the restaurant and bar industry—were announced today and Baltimore nabbed three of the honors.
Charleston was recognized for the work of Chef Cindy Wolf and nominated for its wine program, which is a national award that Charleston has been recognized for in the past.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation," said Charleston's co-owner Tony Foreman. "The joy of having a wine program and doing what we do is sharing it with the guests that sit in our seats.”
Wolf, a six-time nominee, has once again been named a semifinalist in the best chef Mid-Atlantic category. "I'm like the Susan Lucci," she quipped in a revealing 2015 profile of the chef. “I am honored and thankful to be nominated and happy for my staff that I love working with every single day," she told us today.
Hometown hotspot Woodberry Kitchen also scored a nod for outstanding service, which is another national award. Though this is the first time the farm-to-table restaurant has been nominated for its excellence in hospitality, it's certainly no stranger to being in the spotlight. Owner and executive chef Spike Gjerde won Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2015, bringing home Baltimore's first-ever James Beard Award.
"Our service is all about the connection of our staff to Spike's mission," says director of operations Hannah Ragan. "The servers are not just order takers. They are advocates. We are holding up our end of the deal and we are excited that the experience is as great as what we have to serve."
Ragan's sister, Mary, is also a server at Woodberry, which employees nearly 60 staffers in the front of the house. (Baltimore shadowed Mary at Woodberry Kitchen for our March "Best Restaurants" issue, which hits newsstands Friday.)
With the exception of Essex staple Schultz's Crab House, which clinched one of the foundation's America's Classics awards earlier this year, the two fine-dining spots were the only Maryland restaurants to make the cut for 2017. Regionally, Dogfish Head Craft Brewer's owner Sam Calagione was honored for outstanding wine, beer, or spirits professional; Chesapeake & Maine in Rehoboth Beach was honored for outstanding bar program; and Washington D.C. netted 21 Beard semi-finalist nominations.
The foundation will narrow the categories down to five finalists in March, and the winners will be announced at a gala held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 1.