A Cedar Rapids chef is a semifinalist for a James Beard Award, widely considered one of the most prestigious awards in the American food world.

Andy Schumacher, chef and co-owner of Cobble Hill, was named one of 20 semifinalists for the title of Best Chef in the Midwest.

"We are honored to be included in the James Beard semifinal list for best chef Midwest," he said via email Thursday. "This is an accumulation of effort from every member of the Cobble Hill team over the last two years. We will continue to strive to give a good experience for our guests and push ourselves to a higher level."

The James Beard Award semifinalists from across the country were chosen from close to 35,000 submissions. Along with regional titles, awards are given for such things as Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant.

A voting body of former James Beard Award winners, committee members and other regional panelists will select five semifinalists in each category to be become nominees. Those names will be announced at the Beard House in New York City on March 24.

The 2015 James Beard Awards gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 4.

Two other Iowa chefs are also semifinalists this year.

Sean Wilson, of Proof in Des Moines, is also up for Best Chef of the Midwest. Nic Gonwa, of Eatery A in Des Moines, is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, awarded to one chef in the country under age 30 who displays an impressive talent and is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.

Only a few other Eastern Iowa chefs have made it onto the James Beard lists.

Matt Steigerwald was also named a semifinalist for Best Chef of the Year for four years in a row when he owned Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon. Steigerwald is now the head chef at the New Pioneer Co-op's Cedar Rapids location.

Before Schumacher opened Cobble Hill, at 219 Second St. SE in Cedar Rapids, with his wife Carrie Schumacher in Feb. 2013, he worked with Steigerwald as Lincoln Cafe's executive chef.

Breitbach's Country Dining in Sherrill won a James Beard America's Classics Award in 2009.

Another Eastern Iowan, Iowa City native Kevin Gibson, is a semifinalist for Best Chef of the Northwest for his restaurant Davenport in Portland, Oregon.

l Comments: (319) 398-8434; alison.gowans@thegazette.com