Craig Deihl makes Beard Award finals

Garden & Gun also gets a nod

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The James Beard Awards finalists announcement dribbled out via Twitter this afternoon, making for an agonizing hour as chefs, sommeliers, journalists, and restaurateurs waited to find out if they'd made the finals.

Unfortunately for Ken Vedrinski, Charleston Grill, Husk, and Lauren Mitterer, some didn't make it past the semis.

But the big news is that Craig Deihl, executive chef at Cypress, made it. In the Best Chef: Southeast category, he'll be facing some stiff competition from perennial nominees like Andrea Reusing (second nom — Lantern in Chapel Hill), Hugh Acheson (fifth nom — Five and Ten, The National, Gosford Wine, Empire State South in Athens/Atlanta), Linton Hopkins (fourth nom — Eugene, Holeman & Finch in Atlanta), John Fleer (third nom — Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers), and Edward Lee (fourth nom — Magnolia 610 in Louisville). Sheesh, that's some tough competition, but we have lots of hope for a four-peat.

Locally-based Garden & Gun Magazine also got in the finals in the Food/Travel category for their oyster feature, which had probably the best sensual description of eating oysters I've ever read. No surprise then that it was written by the inestimable Rick Bragg.

Money sentence:

"It tasted like wet dirt, only slicker, fishier, like what a tadpole would taste like if you sucked it right out of the ditch, or a wet hoofprint."

A thing of beauty. Also included in the G&G nod were writers Francine Maroukian and Robb Walsh for their contributions.

The winners will be announced in New York come May.

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