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Save the dates: Top restaurant and chef awards in 2012

(Relaxnews) – When it comes to awards season in the culinary world, the first half of the year is one of the busiest. In addition to regional Bocuse d’Or competitions in Europe and the US, Restaurant magazine celebrates the 10th anniversary of its World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, a competition which has swiftly climbed the culinary ranks to be considered one of the most influential, career-making lists in the industry, rivaling that of the old guard, the Michelin guide. Here’s a look at some of the most important awards shows in the world of gastronomy for 2012.

Bocuse d’Or USA
January 28-29
Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park
New York, NY, USA

Considered the Olympics of the culinary world, the Bocuse d’Or USA will choose the American chef-team to represent the biennial Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest in 2013. Finalists this year include Bill Bradley, Danny Cerqueda, Jeffrey Lizotte and Richard Rosendale. On January 28 and 29, the chefs will compete for the chance to carry the American flag into the international competition in Lyon, France, where they will  have five and a half hours to cook the meal of their lives: two platter presentations around seafood and meat, each accompanied by three original garnishes which will be presented to a panel of 24 judges. Dishes will be evaluated for overall harmony of flavors, presentation and techniques.

Bocuse d’Or France
March 4 and 6

For five and a half hours, eight French chefs will cook their hearts out in front of a panel of judges that includes Joël Robuchon, holder of the most Michelin stars in the world, each hoping for a turn at the final Bocuse d’Or championships in Lyon next year. Each chef will be tasked with preparing a chicken dish to presented family style on one platter, enough for 10 people. In the seafood category, they will have five sole filets to prepare, which is also to serve 10 guests and presented family style. So far, France has won six Bocuse d’Or titles.

Danish Chef Rasmus Kofoed (2ndL) holds his trophy as he poses with his team after winning the Bocuse d'Or (Golden Bocuse), on January 26, 2011. ©AFP/PHILIPPE MERLE

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
March 6
Folies Bergere
Paris, France

This year’s edition of the Paris Cookbook Fair, which is an international gathering of some of the most powerful publishing houses in the business, has been extended an extra day. Winners of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards will be announced at a red-tie affair March 6, at Folies Bergere. Last year saw more than 8,000 entries in wine and food from 154 countries, and organizers say they expect more this year. Categories include regional and national titles, as well as the best of ethnic cuisines like Asian, French, Indian and Arab.

Bocuse d’Or Europe
March 20-21
Brussels, Belgium

Finalists from across Europe will compete in the 2012 Bocuse d’Or Europe which crowns the best chef on the continent and sets the tone for the grand finale in Lyon, which is set to take place January 29-30, 2013. New to the competition this year is Bulgaria. Countries include: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Chefs wil compete for one of 12 places to compete at the final round in Lyon next year.

26th annual International Association of Culinary Professional Cookbook Awards
March 29-April 2
New York, NY, USA

Unlike the Gourmand World Cookbook Award which accepts cookbook submissions around the world, the IACP is a members-only club that counts 3,000 people in its group from 32 countries. In cookbooks this year, the IACP has added Culinary Travels as a new category, while the online awards have added New Media and Broadcast awards to nine other categories. Last year, the IACP received more than 500 cookbook entries in 18 categories. Top honors for Cookbook of the Year went to Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home To Yours.

10th annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants
April 30
London, UK

In one decade, Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list has become an international benchmark in the world of gastronomy, single-handedly catapulting restaurants to astronomical fame and stretching waiting lists out to months with just one listing. Ferran Adria’s now-shuttered El Bulli restaurant in Spain owes much of its international fame to the ranking, as it topped the list five times in the last 10 years. The award has been both praised and panned by critics. Some say it provides a refreshing change to the Michelin guide which has been charged with being stuffy and its process excessively secretive, while others have panned it for excluding many old school stalwarts in the cooking world. This year’s 10th anniversary is expected to be a big event.

James Beard Foundation Awards
May 4 and  May 7
Lincoln Center
New York, NY, USA

The James Beard awards are often described as the ‘Oscars’ of the US food scene, crowning the best of the best. The awards cover publishing, restaurants and chefs, naming the best in categories like cookbooks, food writing, outstanding chef, outstanding restaurant and talent spots with Rising Star Chef of the Year. Last year’s winners included José Andrés, chef-owner of minibar in Washington DC, who took home the medal for Outstanding Chef while New York’s Eleven Madison Park took home the title of Outstanding Restaurant. The Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards winners will be announced May 4, while the restaurant and chef awards will be announced May 7.

Bocuse d’Or Asia
June 12-14
Sirha Shanghai, Pudong Expo, China

At the qualifying Asian rounds, countries will put their best chef forward and vie for a place at the big Lyon competition in 2013. Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka will compete against one another for a chance at just four spots at the final competition January 29-30, 2013.

Restaurant & Bar Design Awards
September, 2012, TBA
London, England

Unlike restaurant awards that honor the food and its chefs, these British awards recognize the designers responsible for creating atmosphere and providing first impressions. The awards are independent, and establishments are judged by a panel of personalities from the design, lifestyle and hospitality industries. Entries come from all types of environments including hotels, transport, business, industry, fine dining, education, government, aviation, cruise and retail. Other key dates in the competition include: January 9 – call for entries; April 13 – closing date; June 20 – shortlist announced.

National Restaurant Awards UK
October 8
Venue: TBA

The James Beard equivalent for the UK, the National Restaurant Awards can vault a restaurant’s reputation and stretch out reservation lists weeks in advance. The 2011 winner was London eatery The Ledbury for the second year running, helmed by Aussie chef Brett Graham. The award is hosted by Restaurant magazine, which also created The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Winners are voted by the National Restaurant Awards Academy which is made up of chefs, restaurateurs and food critics, and represents the 12 regions of the UK.

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