Chef Nicholas Johnson, who in 2009 helped steer Restaurant Magnus in its switchover to New Scandinavian cuisine, has been named a semi-finalist for a "Best Chef of the Midwest" award from the James Beard Foundation.
He is among 20 nominees in the Midwest sector, which encompasses Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. (Other states you might think are in the Midwest are categorized as the "Great Lakes" sector, including Illinois.)
The next step in the judging process is narrowing the nominees in each category down to five.
Other Wisconsin nominees this year are: Peggy Magister of Crazy Water, in Milwaukee; Dan Van Rite of Hinterland, also in Milwaukee; and Jim Webster of Wild Rice in Bayfield.
Winners will be announced at the James Beard Foundation's annual gala on Monday, May 3, 2010 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.
In previous years, Chef Derek Rowe of Harvest in Madison has been nominated for this award. And this year Harvest has been invited to host a dinner at the James Beard House on April 6, for which the restaurant is currently holding fundraisers to underwrite the cost of the staff's trip to New York.