Gwen Fowler



Craig Deihl of Cypress finalist for best chef

Posted 3/23/2011 8:08:00 AM

Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress in Charleston is among six chefs in the running to be named the James Beard Foundation winner for Best Chef: Southeast.

Final nominees in 55 categories for the 2011 were announced this week. The final winners in the restaurant and chef categories will be awarded at the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City May 9.

The Beard awards are considered one of the highest honors for professionals in the culinary industry and often are called the Oscars of the food world.

Other chefs who are final nominees for Best Chef: Southeast are: Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, Ga.John Fleer, Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley, Cashiers, N.C.Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta; Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky.; and Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Deihl was named executive chef at Cypress soon after it opened in 2001. He had earlier spend five years at Magnolias, also owned by Hospitality Management Group Inc. Deihl was a semi-finalist for Best Chef-Southeast in 2010 and was named Chef of the Year by the Charleston chapter of the American Culinary Foundation. He is a native of Danville, Pa., and a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Charleston.

If Deihl is named Best Chef: Southeast, he would be the fourth consecutive Charleston chef to get the award. Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk won in 2010, Mike Lata of FIG in 2009 and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in 2008. That would be a milestone for Charleston -- only New York City, which has its own category, has claimed the award four years in a row.

Charleston already has earned a spot in recent awards history, being one of only three cities to have won the award for three years straight. Chicago chefs claimed the Best Chef: Midwest award in 2004, 2005 and 2006. And the Best Chef: California award went to San Francisco chefs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Several other Charleston restaurants and chefs were semi-finalists for the 2011 awards, which is a huge honor in such a prestigious competition:

Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca for Best Chef: Southeast;
Husk for best new restaurant;
Charleston Grill at Charleston Place Hotel for outstanding service;
Lauren Mitterer of WildFlour Pastry for outstanding pastry chef.