By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 04, 2020 at 4:14 PM

Today the James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2020 awards, amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement was made in an effort to both shine a light on the work of chefs and restaurateurs throughout the nation, as well as to provide a moment of escape during these dark times when restaurants across the nation struggle to sustain their businesses.

Among local nominees is Paul Bartolotta of The Bartolotta Restaurants, who has made the short list for the Outstanding Restaurateur award. It's the fourth year that Bartolotta made the semifinals in this category. If successful in making it through the finals, it will mark the third Beard award for Chef Bartolotta, who holds James Beard awards for both his work at Spiaggia in Chicago and Ristorante di Mare in Las Vegas.

Although no Wisconsin chefs made the final selection for Best Chef Midwest this year, we can remain proud of this year's Milwaukee semi-finalists including Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat, and Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie. We can also take great pride that we have countless chefs in our city and state who deserve acclaim for putting forth their best work, even during the toughest of times. 

View the complete list of 2020 James Beard nominees here.

Support area restaurants

Milwaukee is blessed to be home to many amazing restaurants, all of which deserve recognition and support during these challenging times. Your support is vital in helping to ensure that restaurants can reopen to the public safely when the time is right. So please consider supporting restaurants by continuing to dedicate a portion of your food budget to ordering take-out.

Your efforts allow restaurants to keep their businesses afloat at the most base level while doing what they do best: nourishing their communities with delicious food. Together we can raise one another up and make a difference, one meal at a time.

Here are more ways to support bars and restaurants during these tumultuous times.

More on the James Beard Foundation Awards

Established in 1990, with inaugural awards issued in 1991, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.

The 2020 James Beard Awards will mark the 30th anniversary of America’s most coveted and comprehensive honors for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors, and other leaders in the food and beverage industry. 

Stay tuned for updates on the September 25 James Beard awards announcement.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.