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James Beard Award semifinalists: 6 Arizona chefs, restaurants nominated for 2017 awards

Posted at 12:17 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 21:37:25-05

On Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation unveiled the semifinalists for the upcoming James Beard Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars of the culinary world.

The awards include top honors such as Outstanding Restaurateur, Best Chef, Outstanding Restaurant and Best New Restaurant.

The good news is that Arizona is recognized six times among this year's semifinalists, including three in the "Best Chef" category. Scroll down to see which categories our talented chefs and restaurants were recognized:

BEST CHEF: SOUTHWEST

Chef Badman has been awarded a semifinalist recognition in this category year since 2014. Chef Esparza was deemed a semifinalist in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 in this category for Barrio Cafe. This is Chef Smedstad's first James Beard nomination.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR

Sam Fox's Fox Restaurant Concepts have been named a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurateur category every year since 2008, but has not taken home the top prize.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT:

Pizzeria Bianco was named a semifinalist for "Outstanding Restaurant" in both 2015 and 2016. In 2003, owner Chris Bianco was awarded the James Beard Award for the "Best Chef" in the southwest. In 2000, he was a nominee for the Best Chef award, according to JBF's online database.

OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM:

The finalists will be revealed in Los Angeles on March 15. The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala will be held in Chicago on May 1 where the winners will be named.

You can view the complete list of semifinalists, here.