New Jersey chefs earned seven spots on the semifinalist list for the James Beard Foundation Awards, among the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.

The nominees include Marciel Presilla of Cucharamama in Hoboken (a 2012 winner of Best Chef-Mid Atlantic and 2013 winner of Cookbook of the Year), Joey Baldino of Zeppoli in Collingswood (this will be his ninth nomination), five-time nominee Dan Richer of Razza in Jersey City, Cookie Till of Steve and Cookie’s in Margate, Robbie Felice of Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer of Canal House Station in Milford, as well as the restaurant 15 Fox Place in Jersey City.

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The final round of nominees will be announced in Philadelphia on March 25 and the awards gala will take place on May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Since the awards began in 1991, only two New Jersey chefs have received a James Beard award. Craig Shelton, then at The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, and Maricel Presilla, chef at Cucharamama in Hoboken, both won best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. Shelton in 2000; Presilla in 2012.

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