Published Monday, March 19, 2012 | 10:27 a.m.
Updated Monday, March 19, 2012 | 1:55 p.m.
Las Vegas restaurants and culinary pros may have only notched six semifinalist nods in this year's James Beard Awards, but the city itself got a notable honor today. The James Beard Foundation, which gives out some of the most prestigious awards in American dining, announced the 2012 nominees live at the Palazzo at 11:30 a.m. today in front of a crowd of journalists, chefs and casino staff.
More than 59,000 entries were received for this year's JBF Awards, and the nominees represent the best of the best in the American culinary scene, as determined by a panel of more than 550 judges. Local restaurants and personalties were in the running as semifinalists in the categories of Outstanding Restaurant (Picasso at the Bellagio), Outstanding Wine Program (Picasso at the Bellagio), Outstanding Service (Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand), Best Chef: Southwest (Mistuo Endo, Raku) and Outstanding Restaurateur (Eric and Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants and Piero Selvaggio, Valentino Restaurant Group).
James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro kicked off the brunch by noting the Foundation's 25th anniversary, and remarking on the incredible gastronomic transformation of Las Vegas in those years. Ungaro called Las Vegas a testament to the power of food as entertainment, and noted that the Palazzo and Venetian are together home to more James Beard award-winners than any other hotel in the world. However, this was not Las Vegas' day. As Ungaro and other JBF staff read the nominees aloud, the crowd waited, and waited, and waited, but Las Vegas scarcely appeared in the pared-down list of restaurants and chefs. It wasn't until the very end of the brunch that the town got a pair of nods in the best restaurateur category for Eric and Bruce Bromberg, who have an outpost of their Blue Ribbon restaurants at the Cosmopolitan and for Piero Selvaggio, who has a Valentino location in the Venetian under chef Luciano Pellegrini. The eventual winners of the awards will be announced on May 7 at Lincoln Center in New York City with tickets set at $475 for the general public.
Later this evening, the James Beard Foundation will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a benefit dinner and auction at 7 p.m. Chefs from Venetian and Palazzo restaurants B&B, Bouchon, Carnevino, CUT, Otto, Table 10 and Valentino will provide a five-course dinner with beverage pairings courtesy of Southern Wine & Spirits. Tickets are $150 for general admission, $175 for VIP.
The complete list of 2012 James Beard Foundation Award nominees can be downloaded here.