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Delawareans not among James Beard finalists

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Antimo DiMeo, of Bardea, left, and William “Bill” Hoffman, of The House of William & Merry were not among the semifinalists for the James Beard awards. | PHOTOS COURTESY OF BARDEA/HOUSE OF WILLIAM & MERRY

Delaware’s restaurant scene will have to continue to wait for its next major award after the James Beard Foundation passed over two nominees for best Mid-Atlantic chef in its annual awards ceremony.

The House of William & Merry chef Bill Hoffman earned his first James Beard nomination and Antimo DiMeo, of Bardea, earned his second overall and first as a chef last month when the foundation announced those in the running.

The semifinalists, announced Wednesday by the James Beard Foundation, however, went to three Philadelphians and two Washington, D.C., chefs. They include Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington; Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington; Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia; Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia;  and Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, Kalaya Thai Kitchen, Philadelphia.

The James Beard Awards are one of the highest honors for American chefs. The overall winners of the awards, considered the Oscars of the food industry, will be announced in June.

The First State doesn’t win a lot of the industry awards, but heralds the highly sought-after nominations, typically scoring one or two a year.

Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, won Delaware’s last James Beard Award in 2017 for outstanding wine, beer, or spirits professional, while the late Matt Haley of SoDel Concepts won the organization’s humanitarian award.

Hoffman opened The House of William & Merry off Old Lancaster Pike in Hockessin with his wife, Merry, in 2011.

DiMeo, executive chef at Bardea in Wilmington’s Market Street corridor, guided the 4-year-old contemporary Italian restaurant to a 2019 best new Mid-Atlantic restaurant nomination.

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