By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Feb 15, 2017 at 10:40 AM

This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2017 awards. And Milwaukee has four reasons to be proud.

Among the semifinalists for the James Beard Assocation's Outstanding Restaurateurs award are Paul and Joe Bartolotta of The Bartolotta Restaurants.

Meanwhile, semi-finalists for Best Chef Midwest include Chef Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie, Justin Carlisle of Ardent and Thomas Hauck of c.1880.

Other Best Chef Midwest candidates from Wisconsin include Lisa Carlson of Chef Shack in Bay City; Dan Fox of Heritage Tavern in Madison, Jonny Hunter of Forequarter in Madison and Luke Zahm of Driftless Cafe in Viroqua. The complete list of semifinalists can be found online.

The semifinals process began in October 2016 with an open call, during which anyone could nominate up to two individuals online. The JBF Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee, composed of critics, writers, and editors, culled the semi-finalists from more than 24,000 entries.

Semifinalists will now move on to a voting body comprised of former Beard Award winners; Restaurant and Chef Award Committee members; and other regional panelists who will choose five finalists in each category.

Save the date

Winners of the 2017 James Beard Media Awards will be announced on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

On Wednesday, March 15, the Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press conference at a.o.c. restaurant in Los Angeles, California. Nominations will also be announced live via the Foundation's Facebook Live video feed  and in real time on Twitter.

The highly anticipated James Beard Awards ceremony and gala reception will follow on Monday, May 1, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.