Three from Indianapolis named James Beard semifinalists

A restaurateur and two chefs from Indianapolis were among those named Wednesday as semifinalists for the James Beard Awards—often referred to as the Oscars of the restaurant industry.

A panel of more than 600 judges will narrow the list of semifinalists to a much smaller list of nominees who will be announced March 27. Winners are scheduled to be named May 6 at a gala in Chicago.   

In the Outstanding Restaurateur category, Patachou Inc owner Martha Hoover was named one of 20 semifinalists for the fourth straight year and the fifth time overall.

Hoover’s restaurants include Cafe Patachou, Petite Chou, Public Greens and Napolese.

In the Best Chefs Great Lakes category, local chefs Abbi Merriss and Steven Oakley were among 20 semifinalists. The category is for restaurants in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

Merriss, chef at Bluebeard, 653 Virginia Ave., has been named a semifinalist the past three years.

Oakley, chef-owner at Oakleys Bistro, 1464 W. 86th St., was named a semifinalist in 2008, 2011 and 2018.

No person from an Indianapolis restaurant has advanced beyond semifinalist status in the Beard honors. St. Elmo Steak House owner Stephen Huse won a special achievement “America’s Classics” award in 2012.

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