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February 27, 2019

James Beard Awards recognize Zahav, Suraya and other Philly-area restaurants among semifinalists

Restaurants Awards
Suraya Courtesy of Melissa Alam/Suraya

Suraya is a Levant-inspired, multi-concept eatery in the heart of Fishtown.

Zahav, Suraya, and Monk's Café all got nods from the James Beard Foundation, the organization that awards prestigious foodie honors to the nation's very best restaurants and chefs.

The foundation announced Wednesday its long list of 2019 restaurant and chef finalists, with more than a dozen establishments based in and around Philadelphia earning recognition. There's still some time before the final nominees and winners will be announced, and Philadelphia restaurants and chefs usually win at least one or two honors each year. 

RELATED: Zahav makes Eater's 'Essential 38' restaurants in America | South Philly Barbacoa will be featured on Netflix's 'Chef's Table'

In 2018, Camille Cogsworth, Zahav's young pastry chef, took home Philly's only honor, winning in the Rising Star category.

This year we see a lot of tried-and-true, Philly-area establishments represented, with a few newcomers and several concepts based outside of Philadelphia. Take a look at the area nominees below.

Best New Restaurant

Andiario, West Chester, Chester County
Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington

Outstanding Baker

Tova du Plessis, Essen Bakery, Philadelphia

Outstanding Bar Program

Monk's Café, Philadelphia

Outstanding Chef

Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia

Outstanding Pastry Chef

James Matty, Suraya, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurant

• Bolete, Bethlehem, Lehigh County
• Sagami, Collingswood, Camden County
• Zahav, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurateur

Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group, Philadelphia 

Outstanding Service

Chef Vola's, Atlantic City

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Jesse Itro, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

• Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, Camden County
• Nicholas Elmi, Laurel, Philadelphia
• Matthew Kern, Heirloom, Lewes, Delaware
• Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
• Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia

Tova de Plessis from Essen Bakery and Ellen Yin from High Street Hospitality group were nominated on the long list as well in 2018, with Yin also advancing to the 2018 short list of nominees.

Zahav's service, as well as Jesse Ito's rising chef power at Royal Izakaya, also were recognized on the long list of nominations last year, as was Laurel Chef Nicholas Elmi, who is releasing a cookbook later this year. Zeppoli Restaurant and Chef Vola's also were included in 2018's long list of nominees.

Some noted newcomers from last year include West Chester's Andiario, an artisanal farm-to-table restaurant that opened late last summer, and Bolete, another farm-to-table concept in Bethlehem, Lehigh County, that has been open for more than 10 years. Bolete, though not nominated last year, received its first James Beard nomination in 2015.

Also new this year is Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa's owner/chef who continues to collect accolades since moving South Philly Barbacoa to a new, line-inducing location and becoming a public advocate for immigration rights, that includes being featured on Netflix's "Chef's Table."

The final list of nominees will be announced March 27 ahead of the award ceremony in May. Look through the full list of semifinalists here.

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