Local chef, restaurateur semifinalist for award

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Walla Walla chef and restaurateur Chris Ainsworth has made the cut of top chefs from across the Northwest.

For the third consecutive year, Ainsworth has been named a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation award, known in culinary circles as the "Oscars of the food world."

Ainsworth, founder of Alder Street restaurant Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, was named one of 20 semifinalists for top chefs in the Northwest. He was the only representative from Eastern Washington.

The list will be sliced down to five finalists March 21. Winners will be celebrated May 9 during the foundation's annual awards ceremony and gala reception at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

Ainsworth and his wife, Island Ainsworth, are the proprietors of Saffron, 125 W. Alder St., as well as neighboring restaurant Pho Sho, 123 W. Alder St.

The James Beard Foundation Awards are considered the country's most coveted honor for chefs; food and beverage professionals; broadcast media, journalists, and authors working on food; and restaurant architects and designers.

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