Detroit restaurant community nabs four James Beard nods

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
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Server assistant Hanna Cifuentes waters the mini ivy outside at Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, Mich. on Oct. 6, 2015. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
  • Hazel Park spot Mabel Gray is a semifinalists in the Best New Restaurant list
  • Chef Garrett Lipar of Marais in Grosse Pointe is one of the Rising Star of the Year semifinalists
  • Andy Hollyday and Nick Janutol are listed as semifinalists for Best Chef: Great Lakes

A Hazel Park restaurant and three Metro Detroit chefs have been named as semifinalists in the 2016 James Beard Foundation awards, a non-profit organization that is one of the high authorities on America’s culinary community.

Chef James Rigato’s Mabel Gray, 23825 John R in Hazel Park has been listed as one of the 25 semifinalists for Best New Restaurant. Rigato’s 40-seat seasonal plates eatery is the only Michigan restaurant to be named in this category.

Chef Garrett Lipar of Marais, 17051 Kercheval in Grosse Pointe is one of the semifinalists in the Rising Star Chef of the Year, an honor that goes to any chef 30 or younger who “displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.” Lipar, formerly of Ferndale’s Torino, was also named a semifinalists in this category in 2015.

In the Best Chef: Great Lakes category, two Michigan chefs are among the 20 semifinalists: Andy Hollyday of Selden Standard, 3921 Second in Detroit, and Nick Janutol of Forest, 735 Forest in Birmingham. Hollyday was also a semifinalists in this category last year. He and Lipar were both edged out of their respective groupings when the fields were narrowed down to finalists.

Chef and proprietor James Rigato at Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, Mich. on Oct. 6, 2015. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)

“It’s an absolute honor,” said Rigato, who opened the 40-something seat Mabel Gray on a quiet strip of John R in September. Before that Rigato, who was a contestant on season 12 of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” ran his other restaurant, the Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake.

“I’m so grateful for my hardworking, dedicated team of talented people at Mabel and my awesome support team at the Root. It’s such a pleasure to be on that list with so many great chefs.”

The semifinalists list will be pared down to finalists on March 15. The winners are announced at the James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera in Chicago on May 2. Besides Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant design accolades, special achievement awards are handed out for Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and others.

This is the 26th year for the James Beard Foundation Awards. The semifinalists are chosen from 20,000 online entries. The semifinalists are narrowed down to finalists by a panel of more than 600 judges comprised of culinary experts from across the country.

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