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Bern’s Steakhouse nabs coveted James Beard nomination for its wine

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Bern’s Steakhouse has once again found itself a nominee for one of the coveted Academy Awards of food. The coveted Tampa steak joint is a finalist for a James Beard award in the Outstanding Wine Program category.

It’s the only restaurant in the entire state to land on the list of finalists this year.

It should come as no surprise that Bern’s is being honored for its wine program. After all it has potentially the largest wine list in the country and a wine cellar tour is a must-do for any Bern’s first-timer.

One of the keys to Bern’s wine success is purchasing fine wine before it’s aged and storing it until it is.

Brooke Palmer, Bern’s public relations director, told the Tampa Bay Times that a wine team goes to a warehouse twice a week to pick out new wines. She called it the “Home Depot of wine.”

It’s not the first time Bern’s has had a taste of what it feels like to be included in the James Beard elite. It was a semi-finalist last year for Outstanding Restaurant.

Another Tampa restaurant, the Refinery, almost made the cut. Greg Baker was a semi-finalist for Best Chef: South.

Despite the encouraging placement in the finalist category, Bern’s is Florida’s only beacon this year. The Sunshine State didn’t receive any nominations in major categories like Outstanding Restaurant, Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Chef.

Bern’s faces two South Carolina Restaurants, one in San Francisco and another in Beverly Hills.

There is a slight, by-proxy nod to St. Pete. Locale Market owner Michael Mina nabbed an Outstanding Restaurateur nomination for his San Francisco-based Mina Group.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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