Four Orlando Chefs Nominated Best in the South by James Beard Foundation

James Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig

See which Orlando chefs were nominated for James Beard Awards in 2016.

By David Sibila

Four Orlando chefs are among the list of semifinalists for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, demonstrating that dining in Orlando continues to be a culinary contender. Vying for this prestigious award are chefs, Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's at Walt Disney World Resort, James and Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, and Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon in downtown Orlando.

In recent years, the James Beard Foundation has recognized a handful of top chef talent in Orlando. The annual awards program is the highest recognition for culinary professionals in the U.S. Orlando's semifinalists were selected from a list of more than 20,000 online entries representing 21 culinary categories in 10 different regions across the nation.

Orlando's James Beard Award Semifinalists for 2016

Victoria & Albert's atDisney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and its chef, Scott Hunnel, have long been synonymous with fine dining at Walt Disney World Resort. For the past 16 years, the restaurant has been the recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award, among many other honors. The restaurant offers six-course, prixe-fixe meals of Modern American cuisine using ingredients sourced from products around the world, with a focus on local markets and seaports in Florida.

Graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, Julie and James Petrakis opened their American gastropub, The Ravenous Pig, in 2007 and have been receiving accolades ever since. The couple opened a sister restaurant in Winter Park in 2012.

Kathleen Blake started cooking in her grandmother's kitchen growing up in Iowa. She attended the Community College of San Francisco's Apprenticeship Program, which landed her at Square One Restaurant. A Women Chef & Restaurateurs Scholarship Award brought her to Washington, D.C., as the chef de cuisine at the heralded Restaurant Nora. She moved to Orlando to become chef de cuisine at Primo at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. In 2011, she opened The Rusty Spoon, a gastropub in downtown Orlando.

Cover image: James Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig

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