The finalists have all been announced for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards, and New Orleans is heavily represented. Our fair city especially dominated the finalists for the Best Chef: South category. Four, count 'em, four out of the five finalists in that category are from New Orleans: Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, John Harris of Lilette and Bouligny Tavern, Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace and Alon Shaya of Domenica. Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's is once again a finalist for Rising Star.
The biggest news might be that Donald Link is a finalist for the national Outstanding Chef award; the owner of Cochon and Herbsaint has previously won Beard awards in the Best Chef: South and Best American Cookbook categories. Speaking of cookbooks, John Besh is a finalist for his book My Family Table. The other New Orleans finalists are Emeril's Restaurant, a finalist for Outstanding Wine Program, and the Times-Pic food guy Brett Anderson, whose nomination is for a pair of pieces on the effects of the BP Oil Spill on an oyster company.
Eater National has the full list of nominees. The winners will be announced on May 7 at a ceremony in New York City.