Each year, the James Beard Foundation honors the best restaurants and chefs in the United States...and this year, two local chefs have been nominated in the category "Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)."

Joey Baldino of Zepolli in Collingswood, NJ and Randy Forrester of Osteria Radici in Allentown, NJ are 2 of the 20 chefs nominated in the category.

According to Zepolli's website, the restaurant "is a small romantic and very intimate 35 seat BYOB restaurant...(which) serves classic yet very simple, Italian cuisine with a strong focus on Sicilian."  Baldino, who is a graduate of Temple University and the French Culinary Institute, credits his mother and two aunts as his "his earliest culinary mentors."

Osteria Radici is "where tradition and cultural roots meet the modern Italian kitchen."  The restaurant was named a 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist for the Best New Restaurant in the country, as well as one of 2018's 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly.

Forrester, who runs Osteria Radici with his wife, Ally, learned his culinary skills from "some of the Country's most prestigious Italian Chefs (Scott Conant at L'Impero and Fabio Trabocchi at Fiamma, both in Manhattan)."

Winners will be announced at The 2019 James Beard Awards Gala, May 6 in Chicago.