Paul Bartolotta named James Beard Award finalist

Only Wisconsin chef to receive final nomination

Paul Bartolotta
Paul Bartolotta

Last updated on May 6th, 2020 at 11:45 am

Paul Bartolotta, chef, owner and co-founder of Milwaukee-based The Bartolotta Restaurants, is a finalist for the 2020 James Beard Awards, the James Beard Foundation announced Monday afternoon.

Bartolotta is up against five chefs from across the U.S. for the Outstanding Restaurateur award. He is the only James Beard Award finalist from Wisconsin this year.

In February, three other Wisconsin chefs were named semifinalists, all for the Best Chef: Midwest category. They were Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat in Milwaukee, Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie in Milwaukee, and Sean Pharr of Mint Mark in Madison.

Bartolotta is a two-time winner of the James Beard Best Chef award. He and his brother Joe Bartolotta, who died last year, were semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurateur for the past three years, but never moved on to the finalist round.

The James Beard Foundation describes the Outstanding Restaurateur awardee as “a restaurateur who demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations.” Nominees must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years.

In mid-March, Bartolotta decided to temporarily close The Bartolotta Restaurants’ 17 properties in response to the coronavirus. In a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee, he said keeping the restaurants open for curbside service was not worth the risk of one of his 950 employees contracting the disease.

Monday’s announcement came on what would have been the 30th Anniversary James Beard Awards event in Chicago.

The James Beard Foundation delayed this year’s awards process to focus on supporting restaurants during the COVID-19 shutdown. To date, the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund has donated more than $4 million to independent, locally owned restaurants around the country, according to the announcement.

The foundation’s Restaurant & Chef Award winners are now slated to be broadcast live on September 25 via James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed.

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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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