Laurent Zirotti, chef and owner of Fleur de Sel in Post Falls, is the only Inland Northwest chef in the running for a 2017 James Beard Award.
Semifinalists were announced Wednesday
Zirotti is a semifinalist in the Best Chef Northwest category. He represents one of 20 chefs in the category.
Seattle and Portland have the most chefs in the category – Seattle with seven and Portland with six.
Other chefs come from Boise; Red Lodge, Montana; Jackson, Wyoming; and Denali National Park, Alaska. Those locations each have one semifinalist.
Zirotti – along with wife Patricia – own Fleur de Sel, a French bistro set along a golf course, as well as Fleur de Sel Artisan Creperie on the Lower South Hill.
The destination restaurant offers classic French cuisine with northern Italian influences. The chef’s family comes from Italy’s Piedmont region, but he and his wife are French.
Laurent and Patricia Zirotti met at hotel management school on the French Riviera and worked in the hospitality industry there before moving to Billings in 1998, to run Enzo Mediterranean Bistro. Ten years later, they opened Fleur de Sel, 4365 E. Iverness Drive in Post Falls.
Entrees include Parisian gnocchi with prawns for $24 and smoked pork tenderloin with Brussels sprouts compote with bacon jam for $19. “Les Classiques” menu offers items such as French grilled cheese with or without an egg – Croque Monsieur for $14, Croque Madame for $15 – as well as steak frites for $27, duck confit for $23 and lamb cheek stew for $20.
Semifinalists were selected from more than 24,000 online entries for the 21 categories. Finalists will be announced March 15. Winners will be named May 1.
Established in 1990, the prestigious James Beard Awards honor culinary professionals for excellence and achievement. The James Bard Foundation, which gives the awards, was founded in 1986 in honor of the cookbook author and teacher by the same name.
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