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James Beard Award handicappers (what, you thought the Kentucky Derby was the only upcoming event worth your wager?) are predicting a big win for Ethan

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Beard Watchers Predict Wins for Seattle Chefs

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James Beard Award handicappers (what, you thought the Kentucky Derby was the only upcoming event worth your wager?) are predicting a big win for Ethan Stowell, the subject of Nina Shapiro's cover story last week.

Stowell's been nominated for the food world's equivalent of an Oscar in the category of Best Chef, Northwest. In explaining why Staple & Fancy Mercantile has the edge over Sitka & Spruce and Portland's Pok Pok, Gruner and Nostrana, Esquire's John Mariani writes: "Stowell has been surging for the past five years and has broken through on the national radar."

Bon Appetit's Andrew Knowlton thinks Stowell's growing restaurant empire and cookbook are bound to appeal to judges.

"Ethan Stowell just might be a Tom Douglas in the making," Knowlton writes.

Speaking of Douglas, Knowlton's also picked the omnipresent chef to take the Outstanding Restaurateur Award. And, completing the Seattle trifecta, Knowlton's selected Canlis for the Outstanding Service Award.

Mariani disagrees on both scores, arguing Phil Suarez - who's responsible for a bevy of well-known New York City restaurants, including Jean-Georges and wd-50 - should beat out Douglas. He questions whether anyone who doesn't dine frequently at the restaurants nominated in the service category can be considered qualified to judge, since he apparently equates good service with the treatment afforded regulars, but names Thomas Keller's Per Se as the favorite.

The awards ceremony will be held in New York on Monday.

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