The list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation's most prestigious honors for culinary professionals, were announced today and are now available on Selected from thousands of online entries, the group of semifinalists in the 19 Restaurant and Chef categories represents a wide variety of culinary talent, from legendary chefs and dining destinations in 10 different regions across the United States, to the nation's best new restaurants and rising star chefs.

On March 23, the James Beard Foundation will announce the final nominees during an invitation-only breakfast at JBF Award winning chef Rick Bayless' and JBF Trustee Deann Bayless' highly-acclaimed Frontera Grill restaurant in Chicago, marking the first time this event has taken place outside of the Foundation’s hometown of New York City. There will be five finalists in each category, narrowed down from the list of semifinalists by a panel of more than 400 judges. Winners will be announced on May 4 at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception, the highly-anticipated annual celebration taking place at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.