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Lightner, Rucker, Forkish, Higgins Restaurant Among Semifinalists for 2011 Beard Awards

The James Beard Awards announced the semifinalists for this year's restaurant and chef awards this morning. The final list of nominees will be announced during a ceremony March 21 right here in Portland, but here's the complete list of Portland-area candidates. (Notably, no PDX semifinalists in the Best New Restaurant or Outstanding Chef categories):

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Ken Forkish (Ken's Artisan Bakery)

Outstanding Restaurant: Higgins Restaurant & Bar

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional: Steve McCarthy (Clear Creek Distillery)

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Matt Lightner (Castagna), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon)

Best Chef, Northwest: John Gorham (Toro Bravo), Christopher Israel (Gruner), Jenn Louis (Lincoln), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon), Cathy Whims (Nostrana)

· Awards Watch: 2011 Restaurant and Chef Awards Semifinalists [JB]
· All Previous James Beard Coverage [Eater PDX]