Chef Dean Neff (File photo)
Chef Dean Neff, formerly of PinPoint Restaurant
in downtown Wilmington, has been named a 2019 James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.
Neff said he had no idea he was a nominee.
“It really wasn’t even on my radar,” Neff said about the prestigious culinary award. “I started getting all these texts this morning, and I had no idea my name was on the list.”
The honor comes just a week after Neff told the Business Journal that he was leaving PinPoint
to pursue additional opportunities to expand the Port City’s food scene.
Eater.com reported today
that last October the James Beard Foundation changed its policies to ensure a more diverse group of decision makers and award winners. For the first time, the makeup of its awards committees would mirror the demographics of the U.S. census.
The list of semifinalists will drop down to five finalists per category, which will be announced on March 27. The James Beard Awards Gala is scheduled for May 6 in Chicago.
Neff said he’s not sure whether or not his departure from the restaurant will have any impact on his prospects for becoming a finalist.
“Either way, it’s a good reflection of what’s still happening at PinPoint, and I feel very inspired and excited for what lies ahead,” Neff said.
For now, Neff is hosting cooking classes, a new radio show on WHQR that is set to air March 6 and a video series documenting trips to local farmers markets followed by lessons in how to cook simple, locally grown food.
“We want to show people how easy it can be to cook good food and how to cook with the seasons at home,” Neff said.
Followers of Neff’s Instagram feed will soon see links to the videos, as well as receive updates on the radio show and pop-up dinners.
For the full list of semifinalists, visit the James Beard website's blog