Miami chefs, restaurants named 2022 James Beard Award nominees

A view of the dining area at Zitz Sum in Coral Gables, Florida on Saturday, November 13, 2021.

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Some of the best chefs and restaurants in the country — including one of the best new restaurants — are in South Florida.

The James Beard Foundation announced the list of semifinalists Feb. 23 for its prestigious awards, honoring the best in the food industry. The foundation suspended its awards for the last two years as it grappled with allegations against some nominees and a lack of diversity among its finalists.

The foundation revamped its nomination procedures and expanded the pool of judges and voters as a commitment to “racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” it wrote. (Editor’s note: Miami Herald journalists have or currently serve as James Beard Award voters or committee members.)

Here are the restaurants, chefs, bakers and bars in the Miami area that made this round.

Best Chef: South:

Michael Beltran is nominated for his restaurant Ariete and his Cuban-American diner, Chug’s.

Val and Nando Chang, siblings who were semifinalists three years ago, now are joined by their father, Fernando, the heart of their restaurant Itamae in the Design District.

Jeremy Ford, the “Fast Foodies” star and former “Top Chef” winner, is nominated for his South Beach restaurant Stubborn Seed.

Niven Patel, already named a Food & Wine Best New Chef, is nominated for his restaurant Ghee Indian Kitchen and his work at his two newest restaurants, Orno and Mamey.

Michael Pirolo, a semifinalist in 2016, is nominated for the South Beach restaurant Macchialina, which he co-owns with his wine sommelier sister, Jacqueline.

Best new restaurant:

Zitz Sum, the pop up that chef Pablo Zitzmann created out of necessity in the middle of the pandemic as takeout, grew into a full, but hidden restaurant in Coral Gables. The secret is out as it is nominated for Best New Restaurant along with 29 other restaurants around the country.

Outstanding chef:

Michael Schwartz, a James Beard winner who has been a mentor to countless South Florida chefs, including Beltran and Patel, has been nominated as Outstanding Chef just as he revamped his restaurant of 15 years.

Outstanding baker:

Zak Stern, for the third time in six years, is nominated for Outstanding Baker for giving rise to the artisanal baking movement in South Florida, which has sprouted the likes of Madruga Bakery and Caracas Bakery. Antonio Bachour, whose beautiful desserts look like edible jewelry at his Coral Gables restaurant, is nominated for the third time as Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Outstanding bar program:

And Little Havana’s Café La Trova, the Old-World Cuban cocktail bar, restaurant and music venue that chef Michelle Bernstein, husband David Martinez and partner Julio Cabrera founded together is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program.

Finalists will be announced March 16 and winners will be awarded the coveted James Beard medal in a Chicago gala on June 13.

This story was originally published February 23, 2022 2:21 PM.

Profile Image of Carlos Frías

Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frías won the 2018 James Beard award for excellence in covering the food industry. A Miami native, he’s also the author of the memoir “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba.”

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