By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 23, 2022 at 10:44 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2022 awards following a two-year hiatus and extensive audit of its policy and procedures. And Milwaukee has many reasons to be proud as the Foundation acknowledges many of the talented chefs and restaurants in whom we've taken pride for years.

Cream City talents

For the first year ever, Joe Muench, Dan Sidner, Amy Kerstein, and Jason Kerstein of Black Shoe Hospitality (Maxie's, Blue's Egg, Story Hill BKC and Buttermint) are among the semi-finalists for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Among the nominees in the category for Outstanding Chef is Kyle Knall, chef and partner for Birch, which opened in 2021.

Longtime Bay View staple, Odd Duck, also made the long list in the category of Outstanding Restaurant, while one of the city's most iconic fine dining establishments, Sanford, is a semi-finalist for Outstanding Hospitality. Goodkind is also a well-deserved honoree on the semi-finals list for Outstanding Bar Program.

Meanwhile, semifinalists for Best Chef Midwest include three-time semi-finalist Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat, five-time semi-finalist Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie, Daniel Jacobs and Dan Van Rite of EsterEv, who've made the list for three years, and Gregory Leon of Amilinda, a first time semi-finalist for 2022.

Earlier this month, Solly’s Grille was honored this year as one of six America's Classics Award recipients for 2022. 

Wisconsin honorees

Other Best Chef Midwest candidates from Wisconsin include Daniel Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat in Madison and Mary Kastman of Driftless Cafe in Viroqua. Nicolas Blouin of Destination Kohler has also made the long list, honored among the semi-finalists for Outstanding Pastry Chef.  And L'Etoile in Madison is on the list for Outstanding Wine Program. 

You can find the full list of semi-finalists online.

More on the James Beard Foundation Awards

Established in 1990, with inaugural awards issued in 1991, the James Beard Awards the mission of the James Beard Awards is to “recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as demonstrate commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. As the preeminent benchmark for culinary excellence, the Awards program is one of many that support the James Beard Foundation’s mission of Good Food For Good®.”

The 2022 James Beard Awards will be the first in two years, after a hiatus during which the Awards underwent a full audit of its policies and procedures, with the goal of removing bias, increasing transparency and accessibility, and making the program more aligned with the Foundation’s mission and values.

The James Beard Award finalists will be announced on March 16, followed by the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony which will take place at the Lyric Opera in Chicago on Monday, June 13.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.