James Beard Award finalists include three Milwaukee chefs

Bavette's Karen Bell receives second-ever finalist nod

Karen Bell
Karen Bell

Last updated on March 19th, 2022 at 01:55 am

Three Milwaukee restaurateurs have advanced as finalists in the running for a prestigious James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award: 

  • Dane Baldwin, owner and chef at The Diplomat on East Brady Street 
  • Karen Bell, owner and chef at Bavette La Boucherie in the Historic Third Ward
  • Gregory León, owner and chef at Amilinda in the central business district

All three are nominated for Best Chef Midwest, along with three other contenders from Minneapolis: Jorge Guzmán of Petite León; Sean Sherman of Owamni; and Yia Vang, of Union Hmong Kitchen.

The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday announced its short list of 2022 nominees, narrowing the field from what originally included 13 Wisconsin chefs and restaurants across seven categories (out of 11 total).

This is Bell’s second finalist nomination for Best Chef Midwest. She’s been up for the award every year since 2017, advancing as a finalist in 2018 and ultimately coming up short. Baldwin was a semifinalist in 2019 and 2020.

Winners will be named at an awards ceremony June 13 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

The 2022 James Beard Awards return after a two-year hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating toll on the restaurant industry. During this time, the program underwent a full audit of its policies and procedures, in an effort to remove bias, increase transparency and accessibility, and make the program more aligned with the foundation’s mission and values, according to a news release.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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