Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Features and More

Annual James Beard restaurant award nominees include three from Tampa Bay

The 2012 James Beard Award semifinalists were announced Tuesday and Florida restaurants were represented in greater numbers than ever before.

Nominated by local food writers and a national panel of James Beard Foundation judges, this year's Tampa Bay nominees are Richard Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia, in the outstanding restaurateur category, and Refinery co-owner and chef Greg Baker and SideBern's executive chef Chad Johnson, both in the regional category of Best Chef South.

Outstanding restaurateur nominations are for those who have worked 10 years or more in the field. Gonzmart's nomination reflects his experience as fourth-generation owner of the 107-year-old Ybor City classic and other subsequent Columbia locations, as well as his numerous other projects (a wine label and tequila) and contributions to local and regional causes. Gonzmart faces steep competition for this year's award from Stephen Starr of Philadelphia and New York City restaurateurs Bruce and Eric Bromberg.

"This is my first nomination," Gonzmart said. "I never thought they'd consider the Columbia. I thought these awards were meant for small, new restaurants. It's taken 107 years to get here."

Asked how the nomination affected him, Gonzmart paused and then said, "When I think about this, it makes me want to cry. I'm just a caretaker. This means we've succeeded in staying current and being a leader in the industry. When my mom was alive we had some difficult times, and knowing that I have the respect of the James Beard committee means the world to me."

In the regional "best chef" categories, nominees must have worked in the area for a minimum of three years and been working as a chef at least five. Baker, who was nominated last year, and Johnson will compete against fellow Floridians Clay Conley of Buccan in Palm Beach; Paula DaSilva of 1500 Degrees at Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach; Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach; Sergio Navarro of Pubbelly in Miami Beach; James and Julie Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park; Jeanie Roland of the Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda; and Henry Salgado of Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach.

What does a Beard nomination mean for a restaurant?

"We saw almost overnight a 60 percent spike in business. That went on for a good six weeks and we've seen consistent growth month to month since then," Baker said of last year's nomination announcement.

The increase in Florida representation is a good sign, Baker said, a reflection of increasing growth and culinary sophistication in the state. This year's nominees come from throughout the state, not just Miami as has been the norm.

"I think it's a sign that Central Florida is coming in to its own," Baker said.

The five finalists in each category will be announced March 19 and the winners will be revealed at a gala annual event and dinner in New York City on May 7.

For a complete list of nominees, go to jamesbeard.org.

Laura Reiley can be contacted at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293.

Comments
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

NEW HOPE: Star Wars partiesWith the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the force of fan excitement is strong, so of course there are Star Wars parties this weekend. The giant movie complex Riverview 14 GDX is having celebration with characters from...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Gifts are wrapped, halls are decked and people are on Twitter calling Baby, It’s Cold Outside a "sexual predator anthem." It’s a holiday tradition for the social media age. Pointing out the creepiness of the song — or "rapeyness," ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Holiday help in Pasco County for Dec. 15

Farm Share giveaway set for Dec. 15Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Sheriff Chris Nocco, Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Property Appraiser Gary Joiner will host the 23rd annual Farm Share Holid...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hometown Pasco for Dec. 15

Hometown Pasco for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Pasco is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. You ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

1 Battle at the Beach: The Gasparilla Bowl is coming to Tropicana Field on Dec. 21, but before that the bands, cheerleaders and dance teams from Florida International University and Temple University will have a day of beach-related games and competi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Y...
Updated: 7 hours ago
6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

A grandparent can be a tough person to buy a Christmas gift for. Likewise, many grandparents are stumped on what to get the kids besides some cash. Why not make your Christmas gift something you both want more of: more time together making memories. ...
Published: 12/13/17
Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Giving the gift of cooking isn’t really something you can mess up. Whether gifting a gadget or paying for a class, you can encourage a budding culinary enthusiast or give a seasoned veteran a new toy to play with. Here are five ideas for holiday gi...
Published: 12/13/17
Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent Florida Pure Sea Salt Harvested from Tampa Bay’s waters, these handcrafted salts come in flavors like maple bacon, Sriracha, lemongrass, habanero or black truffle. They retail for $15 a jar online, at flor...
Published: 12/13/17