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March 23, 2009 at 12:31 PM

James Beard Award Finalists 2009: the Northwest version

The James Beard Foundation announced finalists for the 2009 James Beard Awards today. Nominees and winners will rub elbows with food fanatics from across the nation at the annual awards ceremony and gala in NYC May 4 when the food and beverage industry’s version of the Oscars will take place at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. And now, for the local-finalists lineup:

Among the list of “Big Names” for Outstanding Restaurateur:

Our man Tom Douglas. His competition includes nationally renown restaurateur/entrepreneurs Keith McNally, Richard Melman, Drew Nieporent and Stephen Starr

The nominees for Best Chef Northwest:

Friendly competitors Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez (Harvest Vine and Txori) and Jason Wilson (Crush)

Ethan Stowell (Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives), with his wife, Angela, at the 2008 awards.

Third-time nominee Maria Hines of Tilth (right) with her fan, Whatzer Name, at last year’s Beard Awards

Cathy Whims, from Nostrana in Portland, checking in for the big event last spring

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s Le Pigeon will represent the Northwest against 30-and-under contenders Nate Appleman (A16, San Francisco), Sean Brock (McCrady’s, Charleston, S.C.), Johnny Monis (Komi, Washington, D.C.), Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Philadelphia) and Sue Zemanick (Gautreau’s, New Orleans)

I was sorry to see the Northwest got skunked in categories like Outstanding Chef (Tamara Murphy was a nominee), Outstanding Service (Canlis was among last year’s finalists) and Outstanding Pastry Chef (what? no James Miller?). But I’m proud to note that included among those nominated in the 52 categories spanning restaurateurs and chefs, wine and spirits professionals, cookbook authors and journalists is my friend and former P.I. food writer Rebekah Denn:

Rebekah says: Another James Beard award? I’ll drink to that!

Rebekah got the nod (again!) for her feature story about Heath Putnum and his Wooly Pigs:

Heath Putman holding his own — Wooly pig-parts — at the University District Farmers Market

A big way-to-go to the finalists — and to all the local semi-finalists to whom I say, “Hey! There’s always next year!”

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