Feb 24, 2022 - Food and Drink

James Beard Awards snub Tampa

Illustration of a chef's toque deflating into a sad balloon.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

James Beard award scouts have completely overlooked Tampa Bay, a region rich in culinary talent and interesting food.

Driving the news: The semifinalists for the annual James Beard Awards, the signature celebration of the best American cuisine and chefs, were announced yesterday.

Flashback: It felt like we were having a dining moment in the past decade, didn't it?

  • Greg Baker of The Refinery was nominated a slew of times starting in 2012. Chad Johnson at SideBern's earned two noms. Then there's Jeanne Pierola of Edison, Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & the Till, Rachel Bennett of The Library.
  • Hotbed? Evidently not. Not like Asheville, or Tucson, or Atlanta, which can all be found multiple times on this year's list of semifinalists. Smdh.

The intrigue: Some have alleged there's an anti-Florida bias among judges, who love to hate on the Sunshine State.

Yes, but: This year's semifinalists include chefs and restaurants from Florida cities like Orlando (3), Miami (3), Doral and Coral Gables, but not Tampa Bay.

Insight: Jim Webster, a cookbook author and former Beard voter, blamed geography and said a lot of overlooked cities have a right to complain.

  • "It certainly is beneficial to be located in a place where there is a concentration of destinations," he told us.

What's next: Baker said the Michelin guide, which comes out in the spring and will feature Tampa for the first time, could give the local scene more attention.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

More Tampa Bay stories