Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Clay Conley Earns James Beard Nomination; Others from Miami Also in Running

February 21st, 2012 · No Comments


This could be a big year for Clay Conley. The chef at Buccan in Palm Beach is a new dad, and today was just announced as a semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award for the South’s Best Chef.

Conley’s Buccan hits on all notes for Palm Beachers, who have flocked to fill seats at the eclectic, modern restaurant since its opening a little over a year ago.

Conley’s competition

A number of South Florida chefs also are in the running for the Best Chef South title, including many of Conley’s friends from Miami. The list includes:

  • Greg Baker, The Refinery, Tampa Fla.
  • Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, Miss.
  • Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Paula DaSilva, 1500º at Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Fla
  • Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans
  • Justin Girouard, The French Press, Lafayette, La.
  • John Harris, Lilette, New Orleans
  • Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  • Chad Johnson, SideBern’s, Tampa, FL
  • James Lewis, Bettola, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Jeff McInnis, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans
  • Sergio Navarro, Pubbelly, Miami Beach, Fla.
  • James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park, Fla.
  • Lee Richardson, Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Jeanie Roland, The Perfect Caper, Punta Gorda, Fla.
  • Henry Salgado, Spanish River Grill, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
  • Alon Shaya, Domenica, New Orleans
  • Wesley True, True, Mobile, Ala.

There were no nominees for Best Restaurant, Outstanding Wine Programs or Rising Star Chef from Florida; only the chefs made the semi-finals. Finalists will be announced March 19 and winners will be announced May 7.


  • 350 S. County Road, Palm Beach
  • 561-833-3450; buccanpalmbeach.com
  • Open for dinner daily; bar open till 1 a.m. Mon.-Sat. and midnight, Sun.

Tags: Chefs of Note · The Eat Beat: Restaurant News · What's Happening Here

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