The James Beard Foundation announced its annual list of nominees for the James Beard Awards, one of the culinary scene's highest honors, and two Northeast Ohio chefs made the cut.
Jill Vedaa of Salt in Lakewood was selected as a semifinalist for Best Chef in the Great Lakes category, which includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Brandon Chrostowski of Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute and Edwins Too was selected as a semifinalist for the Outstanding Chef category.
Salt is a hyper-seasonal small plates restaurant and cocktail bar that opened in 2016. The menu, which is divided into meat, vegetables and fish, rotates every 10 weeks. Vedaa, who came up in kitchens such as Lola, Flying Fig and Black Pig, has been nominated three times but never made it to the final round of the Beard Foundation's awards ceremony. Vedaa is the only chef from Cleveland nominated in the category this year, and one of two from Ohio, including Jose Salazar of Salazar in Cincinnati.
“All of my food is designed to have that perfect bite every time,” Vedaa told us during our 2016 review of Salt. “I think people get complacent and bored not only serving the same food but eating the same food."
Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute is a nonprofit restaurant group that works to provide work and education to formerly incarcerated people and those struggling with addiction — a mission that was captured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Knife Skills. The food is French bistro fare with the sistering Edwins Too leaning fine dining.
The Beard Foundation will announce the finalists on March 16. A celebration will be held June 13 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Award ceremonies were not held in 2020 and 2021, however, Larder Delicatessen and Bakery joined Vedaa by getting nominated in 2020. Jeremy Umansky's koji-driven spot was not nominated this year.