The “long list” of semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards was released Feb. 24, and two Indiana chefs made the cut. Chef Thomas Melvin of Vida in Indianapolis and chef Sal Fernandez of Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar in Greencastle are now in the running to be finalists for Best Chef: Great Lakes in the prestigious awards, often called “the Oscars of the food world.”
The semifinalist nod is the second for chef Thomas (check out our Q&A with him here) and the first for chef Sal, who noted in a Facebook post that he is honored to be included on the semifinalist list.
“Since coming to Greencastle seven years ago, I wanted to bring excellent food, a great experience and a place the community can enjoy,” he said, “Being able to now say I have been nominated, and doing so in the Greencastle community, makes it even more special.”
The list of final nominees for the awards will be released April 3 with winners being announced at the Beard Awards gala in Chicago on June 10.
Indiana has had numerous semifinalists for the awards in various categories in the Restaurant & Chef Awards, but has never had a final nominee or winner. Two Indiana restaurants have received the Beard Foundation America’s Classics designation, which honors family-owned restaurants that have been operated for at least a decade. Wagner’s Village Inn in Oldenburg was honored in 2023, and St. Elmo Steak House in 2012.