Highlands Bar & Grill and pastry chef Dolester Miles move to finals in James Beard Awards

Highlands Bar & Grill and pastry chef Dolester Miles move to finals in James Beard Awards
Frank Stitt, chef and owner of Highlands Bar & Grill, and Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles are winners in the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards. (file)

The James Beard Foundation played its version of March Madness this morning, announcing the brackets for its second round of competition for the coveted awards.

Highlands Bar & Grill and pastry chef Dolester Miles continued their March win streaks, with Highlands named a finalist for the James Beard Award as Outstanding Restaurant for the 10th year in a row. Miles is a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef for the third straight year.

“We are honored to be an Outstanding Restaurant nominee this year,” Highlands’ chef and owner Frank Stitt wrote on Facebook. “Pardis and I are so proud of our dedicated team at Highlands Bar and Grill, and we’re especially proud of Dolester Miles for being a final nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef — three years in a row now. We are most thankful to all of you for your ongoing support.”

The news was not so good for other Alabama semifinalists announced last month. David Bancroft of Acre in Auburn, Brill Briand of Fisher’s Upstairs in Orange Beach and Timothy Hontzas of Johnny’s Restaurant in Homewood failed to advance in the Best Chef: South category. Also, this year’s newcomers as semifinalists – Atomic Lounge and Southern National – will not be making a Cinderella run to the finals. Birmingham’s Atomic Lounge had been selected as a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program, while Mobile’s Southern National was up for the Outstanding New Restaurant award.

“This morning The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the Outstanding Bar Program and The Atomic Lounge did not make it through,” Atomic co-owner Feizal Valli wrote on Facebook. “Regardless we’re honored to have made the semifinalist list of twenty, to have been mentioned alongside some of the best bars in the country after only a year open.

“We’ll be joining the entire city of Birmingham to root on Chef Stitt and Dolester Miles on May 7 and meanwhile continuing to do the thing that we do. Thanks everyone for the support, the hugs, the high fives and those celebratory shots of whiskey.”

Winners will be honored at the James Beard Foundation Awards gala May 7 at Chicago’s Lyric Opera.

The book, broadcast media and journalism finalists for Beard Awards also were announced this morning, and two Alabama-based publications are nominees in journalism. Hunter Lewis of Cooking Light is a finalist in the Food and Health category for “What Healthy Means Now.” Nancie McDermott of Southern Living was selected in Home Cooking for “Lost Pies of the South.” Winners will be announced April 27.

The Beard Foundation established the James Beard Awards in 1990 to “recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone.” Many consider a Beard Award the top honor culinary professionals can win.

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