Birmingham and Homewood Restaurants, Chefs Named James Beard Award Semifinalists

Birmingham restaurants and chefs have been named semifinalists for the 28th annual James Beard Foundation Awards. The awards gala will take place on Monday, May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

Area restaurants and chefs named semifinalists are Dolester Miles of Highlands Bar & Grill, Outstanding Pastry Chef; Highlands Bar & Grill, Outstanding Restaurant; The Atomic Lounge, Outstanding Bar Program; and Timothy Hontzas of Johnny’s Restaurant, Best Chef: South. 

The Outstanding Pastry Chef award is given to a chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries or breads in a restaurant, and who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence. Must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years. 

Outstanding Restaurant recognizes a restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years. 

The Outstanding Bar award is given to a restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service. 

The Best Chef award recognizes chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region. 

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and furthers the foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone. This year’s awards were selected from a list of more than 20,000 online entries. The prestigious group of semifinalists in 21 categories represents a wide range of culinary talent, from exceptional chefs and dining destinations nationally and in 10 different regions across the U.S., to the best new restaurants, outstanding bar programs, bakers and rising star chefs 30 or younger. 

For a full list of semifinalists and more information on the James Beard Foundation, visit JamesBeard.org.

Carvana Shakes Up Car Buying in the Southeast, Bringing Carvana Curbside to Birmingham

Carvana has eliminated endless hours haggling at the dealership and replaced it with a seamless online experience where customers can purchase a car in as little as 10 minutes on Carvana.com. Known for its fully automated, coin-operated Car Vending Machines, Carvana is shaking things up again, opening the Birmingham location of Carvana Curbside, its smaller format purchase fulfillment concept. With this launch, Carvana is now also offering free delivery in Huntsville and Montgomery, marking 50 markets in just five years.

Customers can shop more than 10,000 company-owned vehicles on Carvana.com, finance, purchase and schedule Carvana Curbside pickup for as soon as the next day. Upon arriving at Carvana Curbside, customers will be given a personalized keycard that activates all-glass doors, revealing their newly purchased vehicle. Mere feet from curb to car, customers can be on their way in minutes. Like its Atlanta counterpart, Carvana Curbside Birmingham ties together the fun elements of Carvana Car Vending Machines with the convenience of a smaller format, showcasing how Carvana is continuing to offer customers a new way to buy—and pick up—a car.

Located in Southside, near the University of Birmingham, the newest Carvana Curbside location honors the historic charm of the neighborhood and its Atlanta roots, while offering customers a modern spin on the car buying process. As one of Carvana’s earliest markets, Birmingham has enjoyed free, as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery since March 2015. Now, area customers also have the option of picking up their vehicle at Carvana Curbside in Birmingham.

Carvana saves customers valuable time and money with an online, transparent purchase process. Every Carvana customer is given a seven-day, money-back guarantee to ensure that their vehicle fits their life. All vehicles in Carvana’s inventory are Carvana Certified and have passed a rigorous 150-point inspection, have never been in a reported accident and have no frame damage. All features, imperfections and updated information about open safety recalls are listed on the car’s vehicle description page.

CARVER HIGH SCHOOL AND MOUNTAIN BROOK HIGH SCHOOL PRESENT “HAIRSPRAY”

Carver High School and Mountain Brook High School will present the musical “Hairspray.” The musical performance of “Hairspray” tells the story of issues with racial segregation in the 1960s by using musical diversity such as dance, rhythm and blues. This theatrical collaboration between two Southern schools could be a catalyst for improving race relations, encouraging multicultural friendships and promoting positive race dialogue.

To make the production a success, Carver High School and Mountain Brook High School rehearsed in both venues, attended diversity workshop training and took a joint educational field trip to the Civil Rights Institute. The performances will be showcased at 9 a.m. April 12 and 13 and noon April 14 at Carver High School, and at 7 p.m. April 26-28 at Mountain Brook High School.

Metallic to Return to Birmingham for First Time in 26 Years

Metallica’s “WorldWired Tour” returns to North America this fall! Following last summer’s 25-date sold-out stadium run, Metallica is bringing the in-the-round production currently being seen in European arenas to the U.S. and Canada, kicking off on September 2, in Madison, Wisconsin. Along the way, they will be visiting 34 cities that they did not go to last year and a few that they haven’t been to in decades, including Birmingham (nearly 26 years). The Birmingham show—the only Alabama show on the tour—will be January 22, 2019, at Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Tickets are on sale now at LiveNation.com

The tour will mark a few firsts for the band. Each show will get rolling with the Light It Up pre-show party hosted by their very good friend Jim Breuer.  Jim, along with a DJ to get the night rocking with some great tunes, hits the stage before the band with comedy, fan interaction, giveaways and much more. And if you love to travel and one show just isn’t enough, then perhaps the Wherever I May Roam Black Ticket is for you! For the first time in Metallica history, you may purchase one ticket that will allow you floor access to any Metallica show on the 2018-19 North American tour. Feel like trucking to Tulsa? Booking to Boise? Motoring to Minneapolis? No problem. You pick the show, call no less than 48 hours before the gig, and you’re in! A limited number of 250 of these Black Tickets will be available for $598. For more information, visit WorldWired.Metallica.com

UPS Honors Alabama Drivers for 25 Years of Safe Driving

UPS announced that 18 elite drivers from Alabama are among 1,582 newly inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving. 

Alabama boasts 178 Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 4,235 years of accident-free driving. There are 1,238 total full-time UPS drivers in Alabama.

Globally, 10,504 UPS drivers are members of the Circle of Honor. Collectively they’ve racked up 257,221 years and nearly 14 billion safe miles during their careers. That’s enough miles to travel to the moon and back almost 29,000 times.

Founded in 1907, UPS has a rich history of safety and training. The company issued its first driver handbook in 1917 and began recognizing safe drivers in 1923. In 1928, UPS recognized its first five-year safe driver, Ray McCue, with UPS founder Jim Casey presenting him a gold and platinum watch. UPS formally established its safe driving honor program in 1928.

Alabama drivers inducted this year to the Circle of Honor are Emmitt Bennett, Phenix City; Phillip Boykin, Birmingham; Keith Brooks, Dadeville; Lynn Crutcher, Toney; James Earls, Hazel Green; Dennis Ellington, Auburn; Gregory Frazier, Hoover; Ricky Gallahar, Ohatchee; Bruce Harding, Hartselle; Rodney Holmes, Sylacauga; James Holt, Theodore; Gary Joner, Muscle Shoals; Steven Kitchens,  Harvest; Randy Roberts, Sylacauga; Byron Sanders, Robertsdale; John Thomas, Alabaster; Brian Tilley, Ider; and David Witt, Morris.