Chefs and restaurants in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Bluffton were named 2023 James Beard Award semifinalists on Jan. 25.
Chef Daniel “Dano” Heinze of Vern’s in Charleston and Greenville’s Dayna Lee-Márquez of Comal 864 earned spots in the Best Chef: Southeast category, while Bluffton’s Bernard Bennett of ?kàn is among a list of 20 Emerging Chef semifinalists.
Columbia earned three nominations, highlighting the city’s growth in the food and beverage sector.
Dano Heinze’s nomination comes just six months after he and his wife Bethany opened the restaurant named after his grandfather in the 41 Bogard St. space previously occupied by Ken Vedrinski’s Trattoria Lucca. Vern’s has quickly become one of the hardest seats to snag in the Charleston area, as Heinze dazzles diners with house-extruded pastas, ever-changing mains and a tarragon butter-flecked escargot special that has earned a permanent spot on the menu. All this pairs with a vibrant wine list curated by Bethany.
The James Beard Awards voting body is made up of a group of volunteer subcommittee members, judges and tasting panelists from around the country. In the coming months, they will visit their assigned semifinalists, scoring each one on “criteria determined by the subcommittee.” Semifinalists with the highest average score in each category will be named James Beard Award finalists on March 29.
Winners of the restaurant and chef categories will then be announced June 5 at a gala in Chicago.
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