02/23/2012 11:51 am ET Updated Feb 23, 2012

Chicago James Beard Award Semi-Finalists: Local Eateries Sweep 2012 Picks (PHOTOS)

The James Beard Award Foundation released their list of semi-finalists vying for top restaurant and chef honors this week, and, foodie destination that we are, Chicago topped the list with 24 mentions, more than any other city.

Chicago restaurants, chefs, bartenders and hosts are named in nearly every category. Naha's Carrie Nahabedian, Blackbird's Paul Kahan and Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano are in the running for Outstanding Chef. Nahabedian won the Best Chef Great Lakes category in 2008, which currently has seven Chicago chefs in the running.

Three Chicago chefs are also semi-finalists in the Rising Star Chef category, which recognizes the under-30 set: David Posey of Blackbird, Matthey Kirley of L20 and Next's Dave Beran.

In the Outstanding Restaurant category, awarded to restaurants open for at least 10 years, Mediterranean-influenced French eatery Tru is a semi-finalist. Charlie Trotter, whose famed Chicago restaurant is slated to close in August, was named the foundation's Humanitarian of the Year.

Bistronomic and Next are semi-finalists for Best New Restaurant.

The foundation added a category this year recognizing Outstanding Bar Programs, and named The Aviary and The Violet Hour as semi-finalists.

From these semi-finalists, the James Beard Foundation will name five finalists in each category on March 19, and winners will be announced in early May.

What makes Chicago's food scene so great? Check out some of the honored restaurants and chefs:



Chicago's 2012 James Beard Semi-Finalists