Sean Brock, who's been creeping toward the James Beard Foundation's highest honor, will learn Monday night whether the group's award voters believe he's the best chef in the country.
For Charlestonians who want to follow along, the annual award ceremony will be livestreamed at jamesbeard.org, beginning at 8 p.m. (I'll also be in New York City for the festivities; For updates, stay tuned to my Twitter feed, @hannaraskin, and blog, raskin.postandcourier.com.)
In addition to Brock, the crew from FIG will be on hand to learn whether it wins the award for Outstanding Wine Program.
FIG's nomination acquired a new wrinkle just weeks after its announcement when beverage manager David McCarus abruptly departed the restaurant. According to the James Beard Foundation, "the sommelier or wine director receives the award (and) accepts the award." Managing partner Adam Nemirow is currently serving as the downtown restaurant's interim general manager.
While Mike Lata was thrice nominated as Best Chef (Southeast) for his work at FIG, winning in 2009, the restaurant has never before been nominated in any other category.
Brock was nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year two times before winning his first James Beard award - commonly described as the Oscar of the food world - for Best Chef (Southeast) in 2010. He was a semi-finalist for the Outstanding Chef prize in 2012, and a finalist in the same category last year.
The Husk and McCrady's chef lost to Chicago's Paul Kahan, but he's now back in the running for the top award: Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern; Suzanne Goin of Lucques; David Kinch of Manresa; Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza and Marc Vetri of Vetri round out the nominee pool.
Goin and Silverton were both on last year's nominee list, along with Brock. It's not unusual for a chef to be repeatedly nominated until he or she eventually wins, especially if he or she is based outside of New York City: Kahan was nominated for Outstanding Chef four times before claiming the title. In 2011, Washington D.C.'s Jose Andres won on his fourth consecutive try.
Reach Hanna Raskin at 937-5560.