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Pittsburgh culinary standouts nominated for James Beard Awards

Two Pittsburgh culinary stars have been nominated for coveted James Beard Awards, the New York-based foundation announced today. 

Justin Severino of Lawrenceville’s Cure is a semifinalist for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region and his new Spanish-influenced restaurant Morcilla for best new restaurant in the country. Rick Easton of Bloomfield’s Bread & Salt is nominated in the category of outstanding baker. 

“I’m incredibly humbled,” Mr. Severino said. “It makes me pretty proud of the work that me and my staff do.”

Opened in mid-December, former Post-Gazette dining critic Melissa McCart wrote in her Jan. 27 review of Morcilla that the restaurant, “shows ambition in a city on the rise ... It also reinforces Pittsburgh as a place of opportunity for those with experience, capital and imagination.”

Mr. Severino said opening his second restaurant “has been pretty awesome.”

“One of the biggest things in regards to Morcilla was how to keep Cure moving forward and evolving and getting better and that’s been possible because of fantastic staff we have. We have really exceeed expectations here.”

Mr. Severino was previously nominated for the Mid-Atlantic best chef award in each of the past two years and conceded that while that is an honor in and of itself, he’d like to advance a little further this time.

“That would be awesome. I’m just glad to be in the conversation, but I would love to make it to the finals – that sounds like a party I need to be at,” he laughed.

Finalists will be announced on March 15 and the awards ceremony will be held on May 2 in Chicago.