12 Michigan chefs and restaurants make James Beard semifinalist list

Saffron De Twah was named a Best New Restaurant semifinalists, more nods go to chefs at Ima, Selden Standard and others; final nominee list is announced in March

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Chefs and restaurants from all over Michigan were named dropped Wednesday on the James Beard Foundation's "long list," a roundup of semifinalists considered for the prestigious awards to be handed out this spring. 

A tiny Moroccan restaurant on Gratiot in Detroit, Saffron De Twah, was the only local spot listed as one of the 30 Best New Restaurant semifinalists. This honor is given to a business that opened in 2019 that already "demonstrates excellence in cuisine and hospitality, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come."

Saffron De Twah is serving carry out Moroccan cuisine on Gratiot near Van Dyke.

For the third year in a row, Lena Sareini of Detroit's Selden Standard is once again a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year. 

Other semifinalist nods went to Sugar House for Outstanding Bar Program, Lisa Ludwinski of Sister Pie for Outstanding Baker (her fourth time) and Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor for Outstanding Hospitality.

Metro Detroit restaurateurs Sameer Eid and his son, Samy Eid, are on the list of Outstanding Restaurateurs. The family owns Phoenicia and Forest in Birmingham and Leila in Detroit's Capitol Park. The James Beard Foundation bestows this award to "a restaurateur who demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations." Restaurants must have been in business for at least 10 years, and can't have been nominated for a James Beard Award in the past five years. 

The Best Chef: Great Lakes category — which includes Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana — featured semifinalistd from Metro Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan. Abra Berens from Granor Farm in Three Oaks in southwest Michigan was listed, as was Ji Hye Kim of Miss Kim in Ann Arbor. Chefs Mike Ransom of Ima, Andy Hollyday of Selden Standard, James Rigato of Mabel Gray (his fifth time) and Sarah Welch of Marrow were also listed as semifinalists in this category.

The crispy karaage fried chicken sandwich is a hit at the Ima's third location.

The final list of nominations will be narrowed down and announced on March 25. The winners will be announced at an awards gala in Chicago on May 4. 

In 2019, Lisa Ludwinski of Detroit's Sister Pie was a finalist for Outstanding Baker and Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor received a final nod for Outstanding Service. Neither took home medals at the Chicago awards ceremony last spring. 

They emerged from the 2019 semifinalist pool, which also included seven other chefs and restaurants from Metro Detroit. 

More:Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth wins a James Beard America's Classics Award

More:No James Beard medals for Metro Detroit restaurants, chefs


Twitter: @melodybaetens

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