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Restaurants, bars, chefs up for 'Food Oscars'

The awards will be given May 4.

By Doug G. Ware

NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) -- The nation's top restaurants, bakers, chefs and other fare specialists were nominated Tuesday for what can be termed the Academy Awards of the U.S. food industry.

The James Beard foundation announced its 2014 candidates for the organization's top awards -- including categories for best new restaurant, most outstanding bar program and outstanding service. It honors excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education in the United States.

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As usual, many kitchen and spirits specialists, restaurants and industry writers from each coast permeated the nominees list, with nods to all points in between. The Beard award winners are determined by ballots from more than 600 culinary professionals and are often referred to as the "Oscars of food."

The awards, which were first given in 1990, will be held in Chicago on May 4 -- breaking its 24-year tradition with New York as the host city. The New York Times on Tuesday posted a partial list of the nominees.

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Arguably the foundation's top award, for outstanding restaurant, will honor one of five nominees -- four of which are located in New York state: Blue Hill at Stone Barns (New York), Highlands Bar and Grill (Alabama), Momofuku Noodle Bar (New York), Per Se (New York) and The Spotted Pig (New York).

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Seven eateries are up for best new restaurant: Bâtard (New York), Central Provisions (Maine), Cosme (New York), Parachute (Chicago), Petit Trois (Los Angeles), The Progress (San Francisco) and Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis).

Meanwhile, five watering holes are up for outstanding bar program from cities you might expect: Arnaud's French 75 Bar (New Orleans), Bar Agricole (San Francisco), Maison Premiere (Brooklyn), Trick Dog (San Francisco) and The Violet Hour (Chicago).

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Another award the James Beard Foundation gives is called "America's Classics," which honors an establishment that meets exceptional criteria on multiple levels.

"A restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community," the James Beard Foundation says on its website.

The nominees for the "America's Classics" award are Archie's Waeside (Iowa), Beaumont Inn (Kentucky), Guelaguetza (Los Angeles), Sally Bell's Kitchen (Virginia) and Sevilla Restaurant (New York).

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Literally any chef, bar or restaurant is eligible for the Beard awards. Nominations are accepted each fall. For 2014, organizers said they received nearly 40,000 total nominees. Most of the voting panel is comprised of former Beard award winners.

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