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Alaska chefs, establishments and restaurateur named James Beard Award semifinalists

Alaska’s culinary scene is creating quite a stir on the prestigious James Beard Awards platform, as a number of talented individuals and establishments gain recognition as semifinalists.

In the category of Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific, three Alaska chefs are making waves. Beau Schooler, the mastermind behind Juneau’s In Bocca Al Lupo, is making a return after being a finalist in 2023. Joining him are Anchorage-based chefs Nathan Bentley of Altura Bistro and Michael Dodge of Whisky & Ramen.

Laile Fairbairn, the powerhouse behind Locally Grown Restaurants in Anchorage, overseeing popular spots like Snow City Cafe and Spenard Roadhouse, secures her spot as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurateur category for the second consecutive year.

Homer’s La Baleine Café, situated on the iconic Homer Spit, adds to Alaska’s list of accolades as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category.

Meanwhile, Amalga Distillery in Juneau, known for its exceptional gin and whiskey offerings, has earned a spot as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Bar category.

The James Beard Foundation, a heavyweight in the culinary and hospitality industry, unveiled the 2024 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists on Wednesday. Established in 1990, these awards shine a spotlight on excellence in various facets of the food world, spanning culinary arts, hospitality, and media.

The excitement is building as we await the announcement of the James Beard Award nominees on April 3, with the winners set to be revealed on June 10. Alaska’s culinary talents are undeniably making their mark on the national stage, showcasing the diverse and thriving gastronomic landscape of the Last Frontier.

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