Gwen Fowler



Cypress chef Deihl finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast

Posted 3/19/2012 5:44:00 PM

For the second year in a row, Charleston Chef Craig Deihl is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Southeast.

Deihl, who has been chef of Cypress since it opened in 2001, is one of five chefs in the running for the Southeastern award.

The other chefs who are final nominees for Best Chef: Southeast are Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, Ga; Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta; Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia of Louisville, Ky.; and Joseph Lenn, The Barn at Blackberry Farm of Walland, Tenn.

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.

Final nominees in more than 55 categories for 2012 were announced Monday, March 19. 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 7.

Before Deihl was named executive chef at Cypress, he had spent five years down the street at Magnolias, also owned by Hospitality Management Group Inc. He is known for his passion for meat and his house-made charcuterie.

In addition to being a finalist for the Best Chef: Southeast award last year, he was a semi-finalist in 2010. He is a native of Danville, Pa., and a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Charleston.

A Charleston chef has brought home Best Chef: Southeast honors for three of the past four years. Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk won in 2010, Mike Lata of FIG in 2009 and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in 2008.

Deihl was among four Charleston chefs named as semi-finalists for awards in February, but he is the only one to make it to the finalist stage.

This year, Brock was among 20 semifinalists for Outstanding Chef, one of the Foundation’s top awards.

Chefs Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca and Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh also were semifinalists for Best Chef in the Southeast.

The Macintosh was one of 29 restaurants named semifinalists for Best New Restaurant, but it was not among the five finalists named. Bacon and managing partner Steve Palmer opened the restaurant last fall.