The Beard Foundation's restaurant and chef semifinalists were announced this morning. "The joy of having a wine program and doing what we do is sharing it with the guests that sit in our seats".

Zachary Engel of Shaya and Martha Wiggins of Sylvain are both nominated for the foundation's Rising Chef of the Year award.

The James Beard Foundation Awards, for those not in the know, have always been considered the "Oscars of the food world". Though this is the first time the farm-to-table restaurant has been nominated for its excellence in hospitality, it's certainly no stranger to being in the spotlight.

Returning semifinalists in the Midwest category are Justin Carlisle for his work at Ardent, 1751 N. Farwell Ave.; Thomas Hauck of c.1880, 1100 S. 1st St.; Dan Fox of Heritage Tavern in Madison; and Jonny Hunter of Forequarter in Madison.

Frasca's Rose Votta, Peter Hoglund, Alicia York and Jeremy Schwartz have a champagne toast on March 15, 2016 after learning that the Boulder restaurant was a finalist for last year's James Beard Best Restaurant award.

Indianapolis-based Patachou Inc. founder Martha Hoover is a semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur. The list will now go to an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges across the country - including restaurant critics, food editors and past winners - who will narrow it down to five finalists in each category.

The organization, which received more than 24,000 online entries in 21 categories, also names outstanding restaurants, restaurateurs and bar, wine and service programs in addition to star chefs in 10 regions of the country.

The Academy only announce nominees, then presents awards. There are no cash prizes.

Semi-finalists are not considered James Beard Foundation Award nominees, a designation reserved for those who survive the next round of balloting.