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May 2-8, 2007

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Salivating Over Medallions

By Brett Ascarelli

Nominees for this year's James Beard Foundation Awards, which recognizes culinary excellence in America, are the usual scullery suspects: carrot-lime ravioli hot shot Wylie Dufresne, Balthazar's most Very Important Person Keith McNally, and discerning champ of class Thomas Keller.

But Keller's just the beginning when it comes to the discriminating papillae of the North Bay, which are catching the drooly attention of the James Beard folks. Here's our grocery list of the rest of the local nominees, so you'll know who to ask for an autograph when you pass them in the supermarket:

  • Kenwood food writer Jeff Cox's Organic Cook's Bible (John Wiley & Sons; $40) is up for best reference book.
  • John Scharffenberger, who lives in Mendocino and kind of recently sold out to Hershey, co-wrote The Essence of Chocolate (Hyperion Books; $35), which is nominated for the best book on a single subject award.
  • On her KQED program Check, Please! Bay Area, Petaluma's own Leslie Sbrocco features candid debates by regular Joes who've eaten at each other's favorite restaurants. That's up for Best Television Food Special.
  • Cyrus's Douglas Keane is up for best chef in the Pacific region. (You can bet the P.D.'s happy about that one.)
  • Dan Duckhorn of Duckhorn Vineyards, St. Helena; Helen Turley of HTM Consultants/Marcassin Winery, Calistoga; Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, Healdsburg and Cupertino are all up for the best Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award.
  • Impressing your linens off, Terra restaurant in St. Helena scored a nomination for most outstanding service. Find out if that autograph will be worth something on May 7, when the Beard Foundation finally spills the haricots verts at a black-tie gala in Manhattan.

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