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James Beard Award finalists announced

Lucia in Dallas specializes in handmade pasta and house-cured meat. It's a finalist for Outstanding Restaurant.

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House-cured meat and handmade pasta, a three-course American menu where French techniques shine and a seasonally inspired eight-course tasting menu are among the offerings from the nominees for one of the culinary world’s highest honors — the James Beard Awards.

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards on Wednesday in Nashville. The winners in the restaurant and chef categories will be revealed on June 5 during a ceremony at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

For many in the US industry, the recognition comes on the heels of several challenging years.

“It was a horrible last few years, and it was very difficult for restaurants and we all did the best we could. And I think we’re all kind of shell-shocked and grateful to still be here,” said Jennifer Uygur, who co-owns Outstanding Restaurant nominee Lucia in Dallas with her husband, chef David Uygur.

Uygur said the category her restaurant was nominated in is especially meaningful in light of tough times during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think the coolest thing about this one is that it’s for Outstanding Restaurant, and it’s the whole team … we can’t do it without front of the house, back of the house, everybody, to make the whole experience.”

That sense of teamwork was echoed by the owners of Copine, a Seattle restaurant that turns out contemporary American cuisine using classical French techniques.

“You just realize community and staff is really everything,” said Jill Kinney, who runs Copine with her husband, chef Shaun McCrain. “I mean you can’t do it on your own.”

Lucia and Copine are joined by three more finalists in the Outstanding Restaurant category: Coracora in West Hartford, Connecticut, Friday Saturday Sunday in Philadelphia and Mita’s in Cincinnati.

Finalists were named across more than 20 categories, including the new Award for Outstanding Bakery. Two bakeries in Texas — La Casita Bakeshop in Richardson and Kuluntu Bakery in Dallas — are among the five finalists in that category.

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