Two Local Chefs Become Semifinalists For The 2024 James Beard Awards

Finalist nominees will be announced later this spring.

Indiana chefs Salvador Fernandez of Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar (19 N. Indiana St., Greencastle) and Thomas Melvin of Vida (601 E. New York St.) have been chosen as 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists in the annual James Beard Awards. This is the second nomination for Melvin and the first for Fernandez.

Two-time nominee Melvin knows mentorship is key to creating a path for young chefs and says helping lessen that struggle is a real part of the kind of chef he strives to be. “I was not fortunate enough to have a mentor to guide me along the way and I realize the struggle that comes with that, so if I can be that mentor to the younger chefs, I cross paths with, I am showing up,” he affirms. “I want the state of Indiana and the world to have more delicious food prepared by individuals who love the art and craft of what we do. Thank you, James Beard Foundation, for the inclusion on the list.”

Chef Fernandez’s vocal proclamation several years ago that he was making a path for a James Beard Award may be coming true. With several James Beard House dinners under his belt, and the expansion of Breadworks in Broad Ripple with beloved Indy Chef Greg Hardesty, he says it is humbling to be recognized for the hard work he and his whole team put into what they have created beyond Bridges. “Really, Greg was the reason so much of this happened. We really picked the Breadworks location because we could see the vision of something great, and something perfect for the neighborhood. This nomination is dedicated to Greg, a great friend and mentor.”

For a full list of semifinalists, click here.

Established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991, the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards are one of five separate recognition programs of the James Beard Awards. The awards recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

Nominees will be announced on Wednesday, April 3, and winners will be announced at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 10, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The 2024 Restaurant and Chef semifinalists are recognized across 22 categories. Learn more about the James Beard Awards policies and procedures here.