Baltimore's Cindy Wolf, Charleston and Woodberry Kitchen named James Beard Award semifinalists

Semifinalists will now move on to a voting body comprised of former Beard Award winners; Restaurant and Chef Award Committee members; and other regional panelists who will choose five finalists in each category.

Before 2016, San Antonio had been absent from the list for two years.

The Beard Awards are the culinary world's equivalent of the Oscars, and winning an award - or even being nominated - can mean more customers for a restaurant and an upward trajectory for a chef.

Pastry chef Megan Garrelts has been nominated for her work at the Midwest-meets-Southern-inflected Ryein Leawood.

No one was more surprised than Chizuko Fukuyoshi, who opened the restaurant with her husband Shigeru more than 40 years ago after moving here from Japan.

Paul and Joe Bartolotta of Bartolotta Restaurants are nominated in the category of outstanding restaurateur.

In the running for Best Chef: South are Compere Lapin's Nina Compton, MoPho and Maypop's Michael Gulotta, Brennan's Slade Rushing, Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and Toups South, Herbsaint's Rebecca Wilcomb and both Michael Stoltzfus and Kristen Essig of Coquette.

Also recognized as a semifinalist in this category previous year, Bluestem received a major renovation in 2014.It continues to receive kudos as "a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service", with executive chef Andrew Longres recently promoted to run the kitchen. And though there have been several nominations in the last ten years, no San Antonian has ever won a James Beard award. The foundation will announce the final nominees on March 15. The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala will be held in Chicago on May 1.

To see the complete list of James Beard Award semifinalists for 2017, visit the James Beard Foundation website.