Local chef a James Beard award semifinalist

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Walla Walla chef Chris Ainsworth has once again been named a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation award, known as the "Oscars of the food world."

The foundation this morning announced its semifinalists in 19 restaurant and chef categories. Ainsworth, founder of Alder Street restaurant Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, made the cut for top Northwest chef for the second consecutive year.

Five nominees will be whittled from the list of 20 semifinalists. The finalists will be announced March 22. Winners will be honored May 3 at the annual awards ceremony and gala reception at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Ainsworth is the only Eastern Washington chef in the running for the award.

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A special dinner this weekend will be a fundraiser for the family of Marshall Donnelly, the electrical supervisor who fell through a ceiling last December while on the job at the Washington State Penitentiary.

Donnelly remains at Harborview Medical Center but is reportedly expected to be moved early next week to a facility closer to home.

A chili feed/salad bar and silent auction this Sunday will help raise money for his family. That event takes place 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Assumption Parish Center, 2098 Alder St. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Takeout is available.

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Looking for a little glow on-the-go?

After a story Monday on mobile spray-tan operation Sunkissed Spray Tanning, several readers have asked how to get in touch with owner Derri Reid.

She can be reached at 301-1096, or via e-mail at: sunkissedspraytanning@gmail.com .

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Waitsburg brewer Court Ruppenthal was king of the coveted "Strange Brew Award" during the sixth annual Strange Brewfest last month in Port Townsend, Wash.

Ruppenthal, owner of Laht Neppur Brewing and Cellars, was honored for his "Booted Reer," adding a twist to make a hard root beer for the event.

The brewfest took place during the last weekend in January, said Don Morgan, who helps prepare food for the brewery's potlucks, celebrations and occasional special menus. Morgan said a very limited release of the Booted Reer may be on tap at the brewery sometime in March. A specific date hasn't been determined. In addition to the Strange Brew Award, the brewfest gave first place to Elk Head Brewing Co., second place to Port Townsend Brewing Co., and third place to Big Al's Brewing Co.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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