Not one, but two Iowans are nominated for very prestigious national awards this year!

Every year, the James Beard Foundation honors restaurants and chefs all over the U.S. with the James Beard Awards. If you're not familiar with the organization, the website reads:

"The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability."

Last month, the semifinalists for the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards were announced, and according to an article from the Gazette, there are two Iowans that are up for prestigious awards.

In the Best Chef: Midwest category (which includes chefs from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin), a chef named Kevin Scharpf has made it to the semifinals! Kevin is the mastermind behind Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar in Dubuque. According to his bio, Kevin has quite the list of accomplishments. Born and raised in Galena, Kevin attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis and went on to work in some acclaimed restaurants. You may have seen him on season 16 of Bravo's ‘Top Chef,’ or recognize him as the 2019 Iowa Restaurant Association's Chef of the Year.

Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar is located at 955 Washington Street in Dubuque and "provides a comfortable atmosphere with an innovative menu." It has 4.9 out of 5 stars on Facebook thanks to nearly 300 reviews!

The other Iowan to be nominated for a James Beard Award this year is Aaron Hall. He owns The Local Crumb in Mount Vernon and is a semifinalist for the Outstanding Baker award!

Aaron was the baker at Salt Fork Kitchen in Solon before it closed, and now he bakes for various restaurants in the Corridor including the Webster, Pullman Bar & Diner, Rodina, and Marquee Pizzeria. The website says that the Local Crumb "bake[s] a variety of breads using Iowa-milled organic flours and quality King Arthur flours." You can preorder their bread online for pick-up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Mount Vernon. Get more information on the website HERE.

The finalists for this year's James Beard Awards will be announced on March 16th. Keep your fingers crossed for our fellow Iowans!

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