A local chef has been nominated for a national food award again.
“I think it reflects really well on my staff here,” Schooler said. “I mean it has my name attached to it, but it also has the restaurant attached to it. I think that a lot of my employees, both the front and back, have worked really hard so that’s why we’ve gotten the attention.”
This is his third nomination as a semifinalist, but he’s never made it into the top five finalists, he said.
He said he never knows when the crew shows up to judge the restaurant.
“Their whole selection process is very secretive so people can’t try to game it,” Schooler said.
Right now there are 20 people nominated in the northwest. Then it goes down to five, and previous winners choose one winner from those finalists.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to get to (the finalist group),” Schooler said. “I think it’s weird we’re on (the semifinalist list) to begin with. I know a lot of chefs personally in the northwest alone that are a lot more talented than myself.”
When asked if he is being humble or whether he really thinks that, Schooler said, “Maybe both. I’m surprised by the attention that we get even just in the media in general, and then this.”
He said that he isn’t going to try to change up the menu now, knowing that people will be coming to judge again for the finalist round.
“I feel like if we try to change or be different, that’s not why we got where we are in the first place,” Schooler said.
Laura Cole, from 229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern in Denali National Park & Preserve was the only other Alaskan nominated in the Best Chef: Northwest category.
James Beard Foundation will announce the final Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominees for the Media and Restaurant Design Awards, in Houston on Wednesday, March 27.
• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2228.