Semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards were announced today, with two Connecticut chefs, perennial favorite Tyler Anderson of Millwright's and Jeffrey Lizotte of Present Company making the cut in the Best Chef: Northeast category.
Both Anderson's and Lizotte's restaurants are in Simsbury. This is Anderson's fourth straight nomination and Lizotte's first. Anderson has owned Millwright's since 2012, and Lizotte opened Present Company in September 2016 after surrendering the chef reins of ON20 in Hartford.
Anderson, 39, expressed pleasure at being nominated along with fellow restaurateur and friend Lizotte and at the attention to Simsbury.
When asked when he was going to bring the award home to Connecticut, he laughed: "My girlfriend teases me about it. She says I'm the Leonardo DiCaprio of the James Beard Foundation awards. Eventually, they're going to have to give it to me."
Lizotte said he was thrilled to be nominated.
"It's very humbling, says Lizotte, 34. "It's really just an honor to be included. My aspiration in all of this is just to make Present Company a better restaurant and place to work and to serve my community of Simsbury better."
Restaurateurs know better than to hold their breath. "Eventually" for Jean-Louis Gerin of the eponymous Greenwich restaurant came in May 2006 after 13 nominations.
Finalists will be announced on March 15, with the James Beard Awards Gala to be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 1. All the semifinalists and categories can be found at jamesbeard.org/awards.