Top chefs talk James Beard nominations

Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran of Little Nonna's, Jamonera, Barbuzzo and others were nominated in the Outstanding Restauranteur category.  Credit: Jason Varney
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran of Little Nonna’s, Jamonera, Barbuzzo and others were nominated in the Outstanding Restauranteur category.
Credit: Jason Varney

Last week the prestigious James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalist nominations for this year’s Restaurant and Chef Awards. We spoke with a few of the locals on the list to see how they found out, and how they celebrated. The finalists will be announced on March 18, and the winners will be revealed on May 5.

 

Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney (we spoke with Safran)

Nominated for: Outstanding Restaurateur. The duo owns several Center City restaurants.

How does it feel to be nominated? We’re totally honored. There is so much involved in running restaurants to make them successful as a restaurant and a business. To be in the same category as Stephen Starr is just crazy.

Any insider tips on being a successful restaurateur? Work your butt off, listen to your customers whether you like it or not, be a role model to your employees, and watch every dollar that goes out your door.

 

Nick Elmi

Nominated for: The most recent “Top Chef” winner’s Laurel (1617 E. Passyunk Ave.) is nominated for Best New Restaurant

How did you learn you were nominated? Someone tweeted me congratulations. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think we’d be close.

Did you celebrate when you heard? We had to do Philly Cooks that night, but we had fun at the event. We were high-fiving everyone.

 

Ben Puchowitz

Nominated for: Rising Star Chef of the Year, Cheu Noodle Bar (255 S. 10th St.)

How did you learn you were nominated? I woke up on Wednesday morning and my Twitter feed was filled with congratulations. I had no idea the Beard nominees were being announced, nor did I expect to be on any list.

How does it feel to be nominated? It means a lot to me. The Beard Foundation is a big deal. To be recognized by them as a Rising Star Chef means that we’re doing something right. Restaurants, and especially chefs, need that reassurance every now and again.

 

Kate Jacoby

Nominated for: Outstanding Pastry Chef, Vedge (1221 Locust St.)

What’s your best, James Beard-worthy dessert? Sweet potato arancini, with basil-lime sorbet, halva cream, pho-spiced orange supremes. I love the use of sweet potato and savory/umami-rich flavors.

How did you learn you were nominated? Twitter. We were at a meeting and Rich [Landau] showed me a Twitter mention congratulating me. Rich was beaming. I smiled, but then quickly wondered out loud, “What about you?” A moment later, he showed me his phone again, this time telling me about his nomination.

 

Rich Landau

Nominated for: Best Mid-Atlantic Chef, Vedge

What’s your best, James Beard-worthy dish? Eggplant braciole. It’s smoked eggplant wrapped in eggplant. I get inspired by doing the unexpected.

How does it feel to be nominated? I’m honored. I don’t even care as much about winning, I’m just simply thrilled to be recognized for what we do.

 

Joe Cicala

Nominated for: Best Mid-Atlantic chef, Le Virtu (1927 E. Passyunk Ave.)

How does it feel to be nominated? It’s always a tremendous honor to be nominated for an award of this magnitude. Not just for me, personally, but for the Avenue [East Passyunk]. There are so many great chefs and restaurants down here doing amazing things with food.

Did you celebrate? We cracked open a sparkling white wine. I toasted my co-workers and thanked them for putting in the long hours.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…