Rumors swirled that this might be Refinery owners Greg and Michelle Baker's year for making it to the finals of the James Beard Foundation competition.
Finalists of the "Academy Awards of food" were live streamed today from Charleston, S.C., whittling a huge list of semifinalists to just five or six in each category. Semifinalist and Refinery chef Greg Baker will not be honored at the 2013 award ceremony, hosted by actor and foodie Stanley Tucci on May 6 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York.
That doesn't mean Florida chefs and restaurants were shut out entirely. None made the finals in national categories like best new restaurant or outstanding chef (those almost invariably go to restaurants in urban gastronomic powerhouses like New York, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco), but Hedy Goldsmith of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami was deemed a finalist in the outstanding pastry chef category (owner Michael Schwartz won "Best Chef: South" in 2010) and Jeff McInnis of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach made finalist in this year's southern category. He faces heavy competition from a quartet of New Orleans restaurants for the win.
And while the "Best Chef: West" category reveals a finalist list of five California restaurants, one of them boasts a Tampa Bay connection. Clearwater native Vinny Dotolo, with his partner Jon Shook, was named a finalist for their gutsy, meat-centric Los Angeles restaurant Animal.