The most frothing foodies in the country have been on tenterhooks all winter for the news that quietly landed in my inbox this morning: The James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists.

And without further ado:

Tom Douglas is the only Seattle restaurateur of 20 national biggies (including Chicago’s Richard Melman and New York’s Drew Nieporent) nominated as Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year.

Tamara Murphy of Brasa is the only Seattle chef of 20 national biggies (including San Francisco’s Michael Mina of Michael Mina and New York’s Tom Colicchio of Craft) nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year.

Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland is the only Pacific Northwest restaurant of 20 national biggies (including Babbo in New York and Greens in San Francisco) nominated as Outstanding Restaurant of the Year.Yes Seattle, you read that right: the only Pacific Northwest restaurant.

Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy and Justin Neidermeyer’s Cascina Spinasse both showed up among the 28 nominees for Best New Restaurant in the nation.

Rachel Yang of Joule showed up as the only Seattle chef among 22 nominated as Rising Star Chef of the Year. Others include Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s Le Pigeon and Travis Lett of Gjelina in Venice, California.

James Miller of Café Besalu was the sole Seattle representative among 20 nominees (including Mindy Segal of Mindy’s HotChocolate in Chicago and Deanie Fox of Ubuntu in Napa) for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Canlis was the sole Seattle representative among 20 nominees (including Emeril’s in New Orleans and Picasso at Bellagio in Vegas ) for Outstanding Wine Service.

Both Canlis in Seattle and Café Juanita in Kirkland were nominated in the category of Outstanding Service. Among the 18 others were Daniel in New York City and Alan Wong’s in Honolulu.

For Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, Northwest nominees were Alex Golitzin of Quilceda Creek in Snohomish, WA; David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard in Newberg, OR; and Stephen R. McCarthy of Clear Creek Distillery in Portland.

And finally, in the category of Best Chef: Northwest, the entire roster:
Chris Ainsworth, Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Walla Walla, WA;Dustan Bristol, Brick 29 Bistro, Nampa, ID;Kevin Davis, Steelhead Diner, Seattle; Matt Dillon, The Corson Building, Seattle;Scott Dolich, Park Kitchen, Portland, OR;Renee Erickson, Boat Street Cafe, Seattle;Mark Fuller, Spring Hill, Seattle;John Gorham, Toro Bravo, Portland, OR;Maria Hines, Tilth, Seattle;Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez, The Harvest Vine, Seattle;Taichi Kitamura, Kappo, Seattle;Daniel Mondok, Sel Gris, Portland, OR;Naomi Pomeroy, Beast, Portland, OR;Andy Ricker, Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge, Portland, OR;Charlene Rollins, New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, Talent, OR;Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR; Scott Staples, Restaurant Zoë, Seattle; Ethan Stowell, Union, Seattle; Jason Wilson, Crush, Seattle; and Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Portland, OR.

Whaddya think, Seattle? Who would you vote for?

Unfortunately I can’t provide any of the smart-ass commentary you’ve come to depend on from The Tablehopper, as I am one of the judges. Finalists will be announced March 23; winners May 4.

Until then…try and get some sleep.