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James Beard Foundation Honors Central Florida

February 20, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando -- The James Beard Foundation is honoring Central Florida's culinary scene this week. The group unveiled its award semifinalists this morning at Orlando's East End Market with good news for the hometown crowd.

This is the first time the nation’s most prestigious culinary organization held the announcement outside New York City. 

Local Restaurant Critic Scott Joseph says that makes this a big deal for Central Florida.  He says, "It‘s finally national recognition that we do have good restaurants here; we have a vibrant culinary community, and we have a list of chefs who are worth the attention of the rest of the country if not the world."

Augmenting the excitement are local names among the best chef nominees.  Southern region nods go to Hari Pulapaka of Cress in Deland, Henry Salgado of Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach, and James and Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

Central Florida has yet to produce a James Beard finalist.  This year’s nominees will learn if they’ll make history on March 19.


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