Chef Edward Lee
Chef Edward LeeS

The list of James Beard Award finalists is in, and two local chefs have made the cut: Edward Lee, of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, and Kathy Cary, of Lilly’s Bistro.

Louisville is the only city with two finalists in the James Beard Awards’ Best Chef Southeast category, which includes Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Chef Lee’s Milkwood — which opened in the basement of Actors Theatre last year — also was nominated as a James Beard semi-finalist in the Best New Restaurant category, but the Asian-and-Southern-inspired eatery did not advance to the finals. This is the second consecutive year Lee has been named a best chef finalist.

Chef Kathy Cary
Chef Kathy Cary

Last month, fellow Kentuckian Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort was named a James Beard Award semi-finalist in the category of Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional, and he, too, has advanced to the finals (and we here at Insider Louisville concur he makes a damn fine bourbon!).

The James Beard Awards will be held in New York City on Friday, May 2 (yep, that’s Derby weekend).

Other finalists in the Best Chef Southeast Region include Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, NC; Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta; and Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville.

Sarah Kelley
Sarah Kelley has spent the past 15 years in journalism, pursuing a wide range of stories — from covering federal courts in Washington, D.C., including the trials of 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and former vice presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, to investigating prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases in Nashville, Tenn. In 2008, Sarah returned to her native Louisville to work for LEO Weekly, where she served as editor until 2013. Email Sarah at [email protected]