The Cape Region's reputation as a dining destination has been bolstered with not one, but two semifinalists for James Beard Foundation awards, considered by many to be the food industry's highest honor.
In February, the James Beard awards committee announced Rehoboth Beach chef Hari Cameron, of a(MUSE) restaurant was selected to compete against 17 other chefs nationwide to be named "Rising Star Chef of the Year" at the awards in New York City.
Local beer baron Sam Calagione was once again announced as a semifinalist to take home bragging rights as the James Beard Foundation's "Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional," for his Dogfish Head brewery in Milton.
Cameron said his status as a semifinalist came as a welcome surprise.
"I'm blown away, truly honored," Cameron said. "It's a huge honor to know people enjoy the food we are doing enough to recognize it."
2013 does not mark the first year local cuisiniers have been up for the Beard foundation's culinary honors. In 2011, chef Jay Caputo, who created the menus at his Espuma, Cabo and Rose & Crown restaurants, was a finalist for the foundation's top honors and Calagione was also in the running for Wine, Spirits and Beer professional.
Though his position as a semifinalist is his most recent career distinction, Cameron has been making moves in the downtown Rehoboth restaurant community since he opened a(MUSE) last year.
As a member of the Rehoboth Inspired Chefs Initiative, Cameron promotes innovative dining in the Cape Region and works with other local chefs including Caputo to promote local, healthful, sustainable eating and more recently, local art as well.
During the month of February, Cameron featured artworks created by multi-generational Rehoboth natives Terrance and Clyde Vann, a grandson and grandfather who paint portraits and modern, abstract paintings.
For the chef, the walls of his restaurant provide another outlet to promote what he finds special about his community at the beach.
"Since we started cooking we wanted to do something that was truly regionally inspired," he said, "That goes along with the art in the hallways."
The James Beard Foundation is slated to announce five finalists for their awards, which also include categories for best restaurants and chefs by region on Monday, March 18, with final award winners announced May 3 and 6 in New York City.