2020 James Beard Award semifinalists in Asheville, N.C.

Flan at Curate, whose founder, Katie Button, is a semifinalist for this year's awards

Table of Contents

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2020 award semifinalists yesterday – and five Asheville chefs + restaurants made the cut. We’ll know the finalists on March 25 starting at 9 a.m., after over 600 judges across the U.S. (including other James Beard Award winners, food + wine critics, culinary educators + more) cast their vote. Winners will be announced in May.

Here’s the dish on this year’s shining stars of the local food scene –

Cultura – Best New Restaurant (first nomination)

John Fleer – Outstanding Chef, Rhubarb (seventh nomination)

Ashleigh Shanti – Rising Star Chef of the Year, Benne on Eagle (first nomination)

Katie Button – Best Chef–Southeast, Cúrate (seventh nomination)

Meherwan Irani – Best Chef–Southeast, Chai Pani (fifth nomination)

James Beard was a chef, cookbook author, TV host (he started the first program devoted to food on television in 1946), and teacher. He died in 1985, and the James Beard Foundation opened his home to the public the following year. 

This is the 30th anniversary of the awards, which honor chefs, restaurants, bakers, bar programs, writers, journalists + other people and places making waves in the food and bev industry across 20+ categories. DYK: The Rising Star of the Year award is given to a chef who is 30 or younger.   

Ready for a #roadtrip? Other nearby restaurants + chefs nominated include Oak Hill Cafe & Farm in Greenville, S.C. (Best New Restaurant), as well as four spots + chefs in Raleigh, one in Cary, seven in Charleston, S.C., and eight in Atlanta. Nominations happen through an open call, which is narrowed down by a team of volunteers and the org’s Restaurant and Chef Committee.