Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall has been selected as a semi-finalist in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef: Northwest. The James Beard Awards is the nation’s most prestigious recognition program honoring professionals in the food and beverage industry. Kucy, along with 19 other semi-finalists in the Best Chef: Northwest category were chosen from a pool of over 44,000 online nominations as examples of Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions.

This nomination is the first for Kucy who says he was pleasantly surprised to hear of the nomination. “I have worked with and admired many of the past nominees and winners of James Beard Awards, but not once did I think I would be recognized by such a prestigious organization of food lovers,” Kucy says.

David Carey, owner of Rupert’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall, says, “The team at Rupert’s is so proud of Gary and this achievement. He is a hardworking and humble chef that cares passionately about the industry.  We have always felt that Gary is something special and as good as any chef out there. We hope this attracts some well-deserved attention to his craft and to Idaho.”

Taite Pearson of della Mano in Ketchum, Idaho was the only one other chef from Idaho to be nominated. “I hope we are seeds that grow into more chefs in the state of Idaho being recognized for their skills, passion and contribution to our industry,” says Kucy.

Kucy’s culinary training includes a three-year formal apprenticeship at the Five Star, Five Diamond, Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Kucy also worked for eight years as a chef with Mark Miller at the Coyote Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he assisted in opening restaurants, writing cookbooks and promoting southwestern cuisine worldwide, with cooking stints in Singapore, Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York and Seattle. He subsequently spent two years as the Sous Chef at the Snake River Grill, an upscale fine dining restaurant in the heart of Jackson, Wyoming. In December 2005, Kucy came to Idaho where he opened and became Executive Chef of Tamarack Resort’s premier restaurant, Morels. In 2009, Kucy joined the Rupert’s team as Executive Chef of both Rupert’s Restaurant and the Jug Mountain Ranch Clubhouse Restaurant.

As Executive Chef at Rupert’s, Kucy strives to offer fresh, honest, clean, simple, good value food and places a focus on flavor with quality ingredients with a fondness toward ethnic flavors of the Southwest, Asia, and Mediterranean. He is also keen to tap into the available regional resources to stock the pantry with favorites including local elk, buffalo, artisanal cheese, foraged mushrooms and berries, and supporting other local craftsmen for beer, wine, bread, and pastries.

On Monday, March 18, 2013, the James Beard Foundation will announce the final 5 nominees in each category with top honors awarded at a ceremony and gala reception on Monday, May 6, 2013.

About the James Beard Foundation

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America. Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and continue to emphasize the Foundation’s mission: to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity. Each award category has an individual Awards Committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program.