Tampa Bay chefs among James Beard Award semifinalists

We see you, Jeannie Pierola and Rachel Bennett.

click to enlarge Edison: Food+Drink Lab chef-owner Jeannie Pierola. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Edison: Food+Drink Lab chef-owner Jeannie Pierola.

The James Beard Foundation has released its annual list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists, and guess what? A pair of Tampa Bay chefs were nominated.

St. Petersburg chef Rachel Bennett of The Library, formerly known as The Peabody, was named a Rising Star Chef of the Year, which, holy shit, is a big deal.

As for the Best Chef: South category, Jeannie Pierola, chef-owner behind Tampa’s Edison: Food+Drink Lab, snagged the local nom. Pierola launched edison’s swigamajig divebar and fishkitchen at Sparkman Wharf in November, and she aims to open her third restaurant, Counter Culture, in late spring.

Last year, Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalist honors went to The Reading Room executive chef Lauren Macellaro and Richard Gonzmart, president of the Columbia Restaurant Group.

The JBF is scheduled to announce the finalists March 27. On May 6, the Beard Awards Gala will take place in Chicago.

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