Detroit area chefs and bakers make 2018 James Beard award semifinals

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The foundation released its list of semifinalists for its annual James Beard Awards, which celebrate the best of the best in the American culinary world. The group's Rising Star Chef of the Year award went to Zach Engel, who at the time was chef de cuisine at Shaya, a restaurant that had also won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant just a year earlier.

Zak the Baker has been nominated for the second-straight year for Outstanding Baker by the James Beard Foundation.

At 9:30 this morning (February 15), the foundation will be announcing Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalist nominees live on its Twitter feed.

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In mid-October, more than 20,000 entries were received by the Restaurant and Chef Committee. This preliminary list will be whittled down when a list of finalists is announced on March 14, and the winners will be announced at the swanky James Beard award gala in Chicago on May 7.

Below are the semi-finalist nominees from Wisconsin.

Frasca, a perennial favorite among James Beard voters, makes an appearance this year in the Outstanding Restaurant category.

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Twenty restaurants were nominated in the "Outstanding Restaurant" category, but no other Wisconsin restaurants are represented. And admittedly, Dallas didn't exactly show up strong this year, but we do have one semifinalist, and it's a nomination we 100 percent agree with: Regino Rojas of Revolver Taco Lounge, a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Southwest category.

Justin Carlisle: Owner and operator of Ardent (Milwaukee).

Jonny Hunter: chef of Forequarter (Madison). Hunter, Madison Magazine's 2015 Chef of the Year, is also the co-founder of the Underground Food Collective, which includes Underground Catering, Underground Butcher and his restaurant Forequarter.

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Jay Sparks: Chef of Lovechild (La Crosse). In 2002, Oakley landed in Indianapolis and quickly established himself as one of the area's most-talented chefs in opening Oakley's Bistro.

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