internal rebukes and a New York Times report that revealed not a single Black chef was among the crop of 2020 winners.
What ensued was a full audit of the awards program and its policies and procedures.
Among its objectives were to "remove any systemic bias," "increase the diversity of the voting body" and "increase transparency in how the Awards function."
It marks the second nom for Moso, who was named semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2020, and Rabii Saber, who was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2019.
Of note is the diversity, and immigrant roots, of this year's list of nominees. Moso is from Laos, Saber from Morocco, Rahman from Jamaica and the Chins are both of Korean descent (Sue was born in Seoul).
That could change this year as a result of some procedural changes.
Restaurant and Chef Awards Subcommittee members comprised of industry authorities including chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and critics produce the list of semifinalists after which the ballot is distributed online to a larger voting body who whittle the list down to five finalists per category.
To get on that short list, Central Florida chefs need the votes of this electoral college. In the past, the trick was to get these members to eat at their restaurant, a proposition that's proven difficult for previous Orlando-area semifinalists.
But this year, things are different. Now that the semifinalists have been announced, Tasting Panelists, tasked with visiting the nominated restaurants, will help determine the finalists via a ballot, as will Subcommittee members and the Scouts who've actively searched for said candidates. The five semifinalists with the highest number of votes become the finalists, all of whom will be announced March 16.
Winners will be announced at the James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony June 13 in Chicago.
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