April 16, 2010— -- It's called the Oscars of the culinary world.
Every year, the James Beard Foundation Awards honor the best chefs, restaurateurs and food critics. But the awards are more than a medal: winning has the opportunity to change the course of a chef's career.
Brett Anderson, the restaurant critic for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the volunteer chair of the James Beard Restaurants & Chef committee, said that receiving a James Beard award or nomination is a very valuable resume line.
"In general," Anderson told ABCNews.com, it's "... a sign of what they have accomplished and the value of their food. Historically, the James Beard Awards have been very good at pinpointing and identifying the best restaurant chefs in the country."
The medal that has the most weight in changing someone's career is the Rising Star Chef of the Year award, which, according the Foundation's Web site, is given to a chef under 30 years old who is likely to make a significant impact on the culinary industry in the future.
"Winning can be an incredible boost to someone's career," Anderson said. "Right now they may be working in restaurants owned by other people and this could help them in moving forward and opening their own restaurant."
Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, who doesn't vote for any of the awards, told ABCNews.com that not only will this help someone's career, it also gives regular diners an idea of where to get a great meal.
"You really can't get a better recommendation than a chef or restaurant that has been nominated or won a James Beard Award," Urgaro said.
ABCNews. com looked at the background and restaurants of the five young chefs nominated for the Rising Star award and located some fun things to do and see around their restaurant. And we also found out their signature dishes to further tantalize your taste buds.