Sister Pie baker and Zingerman's Roadhouse snag James Beard Award nominations

For the second year in a row, Sister Pie baker Lisa Ludwinski is nominated for Outstanding Baker and Zingerman's Roadhouse for Outstanding Hospitality

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

At a time where it seems like bad news for restaurants keeps piling up, two Michigan food businesses were delivered a ray of sunshine Monday afternoon when the James Beard Foundation announced the nominees for its annual awards.

Blackberry Peach Coffee Cake is one of the recipes inside the new book "Sister Pie" from Detroit baker Lisa Ludwinski.

Detroit's star baker Lisa Ludwinski of West Village's Sister Pie was nominated for Outstanding Baker and Ann Arbor mainstay Zingerman's Roadhouse got the nod in the Outstanding Hospitality category. This is the second consecutive nomination for both businesses. 

Zingerman's Roadhouse is still operating through the pandemic by offering carryout and delivery service within a six-mile radius. Ludwinski has temporarily closed Sister Pie, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in late April, but is selling merchandise on its website and taking donations for out-of-work staff members. 

February's semifinalist announcements saw a large number of Michigan and Detroit-area restaurants and chefs named on the foundations "long list," but all but the aforementioned two were edged out of the running for the awards, which are considered the top food-related accolades in the country. 

None of the six Michigan chefs long-listed in the "Best Chef: Great Lakes" category were nominated. The semifinalists were Abra Berens from Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Ji Hye Kim of Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Mike Ransom of Ima, Andy Hollyday of Selden Standard, James Rigato of Mabel Gray  and Sarah Welch of Marrow. All the final nominee slots in this category went to Chicago-based chefs. 

On the same day as the James Beard announcements, one Detroit semifinalist got another sort of honor. Sameer Eid and his son Samy Eid were considered for the Outstanding Restaurateurs award. While they didn't get nominated for the James Beard honor, they were named one of 16 "Best New Restaurants in America" by GQ magazine on Monday.

The James Beard Foundation's semifinalist list and final nominees were determined based on the restaurant or chef's work in 2019, so the pandemic shutdown did not affect the judging. 

Monday was the original date for the awards ceremony in Chicago, a 30th anniversary celebration, to boot. Instead, the winners will be announced via press release on May 27. 

"For 30 years the James Beard Awards have been our biggest celebration of the year ... and today in a different way we've come together to do just that," said James Beard CEO Clare Reichenbach ahead of Monday's virtual announcement. 

She said the Foundation consulted with members of the restaurant industry to determine the most appropriate course of action regarding the announcement of the nominees. They decided now was a good time to offer the final nominees something to celebrate. 

"This is a unique moment in time for our industry and our world ... many restaurants are closed and some don't know if they'll ever reopen. None of this changes how much are nominees have achieved in this last year." 

In February, the James Beard Foundation gave Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth the 2020 America's Classic Award, a honor given to restaurants with "timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community."

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Twitter: @melodybaetens

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