Local advertising agency Bigeye wants the James Beard Association (Website) to recognize Chefs in Central Florida and award one of them a James Beard Award. So, they created a petition called "It’s Time Orlando Had a Beard. James Beard."
The James Beard Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, broadcast media, and restaurant design, leadership, humanitarian, and lifetime achievement.
The petition says, "Initially, this year’s nominee list carried four amazing local chefs, but now that the finalists and winners have been announced, there isn’t one Orlando culinary expert on it. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Our lack of recognition is not a reflection of the incredible talent this city has to offer, but, we can only assume, a product of misconceptions about all that our city has to offer food enthusiasts who appreciate truly exceptional cuisine."
Speaking of misconceptions, remember when The Times-Picayune in New Orleans Restaurant critic Brett Anderson asked for suggestions on where to eat in Orlando on twitter and James Beard Award-winning Chef Andrew Zimmern responded "You're kind of screwed... but there is some good BBQ there at 3 rivers and Ravenous Pig."? The local foodies stuck up for the city and he apologized. But still.
Orlando is not lacking in qualified candidates. Chefs Greg Richie and Kevin Fonzo have been invited to cook with the James Beard Foundation but have not been nominated themselves. Chefs Kathleen Blake and Scott Hunnel have both been named on Best Chefs America.
The petition goes on to say, "The James Beard Foundation has an incredible reputation and its voice can bring so much well-deserved recognition to our highly-skilled, local talent. It’s time to show their expert judges, along with their audience, that our accomplished chefs belong in the spotlight, too."