By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 24, 2024 at 9:30 AM

This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2024 awards. And Milwaukee has many reasons to be proud as the Foundation acknowledges many of the talented chefs and restaurants in whom we've taken pride for years.

Cream City talents

For the first time, Chef Gregory Leon of Amilinda, was named among the semi-finalists in the national category of Outstanding Chef. This is a new category for Leon who was among the nominees for Best Chef Midwest in both 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, semifinalists for Best Chef Midwest include first time long-list nominees Ross Bachhuber and Samuel Ek of Odd Duck; five-time semi-finalists Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite of EsterEv; and Kyle Knall of Birch who was named as a semifinalist for Outstanding Chef in 2022.

Be sure to show your support by paying them a visit. You’ll find all of these restaurants (and more worthy spots) on my 52 Restaurants list for 2024.

Wisconsin honorees

Other Best Chef Midwest candidates from Wisconsin include Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer of Chef Shack Bay City (Bay City, Wisconsin) and Sean Pharr of Mint Mark, Madison, WI

Syovata Edari of CocoVaa Chocolatier (Madison) made the semifinals in the category of Outstanding Pastry Chef.  Pasture and Plenty (Madison) has also been named as a semifinalist for Outstanding Hospitality.

Meanwhile, Bryce Stevenson of Miijim (La Pointe, Wisconsin)   has also made the long list, honored among the national semi-finalists for Emerging Chef.

More on the JBF Awards

Established in 1990, with inaugural awards issued in 1991, the mission of the James Beard Awards is to “recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as demonstrate commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. As the preeminent benchmark for culinary excellence, the Awards program is one of many that support the James Beard Foundation’s mission of "Good Food For Good®."

Moving forward, the James Beard nominees will be announced on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 and winners will be announced and celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 10, 2024 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

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.