Beard awards: Going for the gold in gastronomy

NEW YORK -- Culinary professionals working in dining capitals as diverse as New York, Dallas and Birmingham, Ala., were among the nominees in top categories for the 18th James Beard Foundation awards announced Monday.

The awards honor the nation's top chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, waitstaffs, food journalists and beverage makers. Winners in most of the 52 categories will be announced June 8 at a gala in New York that will celebrate artisanal food producers and honor James Beard, a pioneer of American gastronomy.

The nominees in top categories:

Outstanding restaurant (open at least 10 years) Boulevard, San Francisco; Campanile, Los Angeles; Gramercy Tavern, New York; Jean Georges, New York; The Slanted Door, San Francisco.

Best new restaurant (opened in 2007) Anthos, New York; Central Michel Richard, Washington, D.C.; Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas; Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles; Osteria, Philadelphia

Outstanding chef Grant Achatz, Alinea, Chicago; José Andrés, Minibar, Washington, D.C.; Dan Barber, Blue Hill, New York; Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles; Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Ala.

Restaurateur Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali, Babbo Ristorante, New York; Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle; Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Chicago; Wolfgang Puck, The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Beverly Hills; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges Management, New York

Rising-star chef (age 30 or younger) Nate Appleman, A 16, San Francisco; Sean Brock, McCrady's, Charleston, S.C.; Gavin Kaysen, Café Boulud, New York; Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C.; Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles; Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore.

Pastry chef Gina DePalma, Babbo Ristorante, New York; Pichet Ong, P*ONG, New York; Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, Calif.; Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, Tartine Bakery, San Francisco; MindySegal, HotChocolate, Chicago

Restaurant service Canlis, Seattle; Gary Danko, San Francisco; Spiaggia, Chicago; Terra, St. Helena, Calif.; Vetri, Philadelphia

Wine service Aureole, Las Vegas; Bin 36, Chicago; Eleven Madison Park, New York; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.; Picasso, Las Vegas

Wine/spirits professional Dale DeGroff, Beverage Alcohol Resource, New York; Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Wines, Sebastopol, Calif.; David Lett, The Eyrie Vineyards, McMinnville, Ore.; Bobby Stuckey, Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colo.; Terry Theise, Terry Theise Estate Selections, Silver Spring, Md.