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Three Baltimore restaurants nominated for one of highest honors in food industry

By Dennis Valera,


Three Baltimore restaurants nominated for one of highest honors in food industry 02:05

BALTIMORE - Three restaurants in the Charm City are up for one of the highest honors in the food industry.

The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for this year's awards, naming Charleston , Ekiben and foraged . as contenders.

Charleston is a semifinalist for Outstanding Hospital, one of the ten national categories.

Steve Chu, co-owner of Ekiben, and Chris Amendola, head chef and owner of foraged, are semifinalists for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

A James Beard award nomination may not be new for Charleston, a longtime fine dining gem in Harbor East, but executive chef and co-owner Cindy Wolf said they're just as excited as the first time.

"Every recognition is an honor and I'm always happy for the city of baltimore, I'm happy for us, I'm happy for my employees," Wolf said. "It just does us all a lot of good."

This year marks their 23rd nomination.

Wolf herself has been up for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic more than a dozen times over the years, but she said this year's nod speaks to her team as a whole. Many of whom have been at her side for awhile.

Some of them have worked with her since Charleston opened up 25 years ago.

"These folks have all worked their way up," Wolf said.

Chu said he's still surprised to be nominated as one of this year's best chefs in the mid-Atlantic region.

Ekiben, an Asian fusion spot, first opened in Fells Point in 2016, now expanded to three locations in the city.

"When I was in college and I wanted enter the industry, I would look in magazines and I would just see [famous chefs'] names on top of lists year after year. So, to be a part of that list as well, it's pretty incredible," he said.

But, even though the nomination is just for him, Chu said he wouldn't be here without his team.

"We started off as a hot dog cart, so we're used to working at events. We're out there rain, sleet, snow, sunshine," he said. We all bond together through our love of Baltimore and just how hard we really work together."

The final list of nominees will be announced March 29.

The winners will be announced at the James Beards Awards ceremony in Chicago on June 5.

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