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Victoria & Albert’s Chef Earns High Honors as Best in the South Finalist

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., February 24, 2012 – For the sixth year in a row, The James Beard Foundation has named Chef Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as a finalist on its annual list of top chefs in the country.

Nominated for the prestigious “Best Chef: South” award, Chef Hunnel is familiar with earning recognition as one of the nation’s best. He also received nominations from the Foundation in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“The amazing creativity of Chef Scott Hunnel helps make Victoria & Albert’s restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa an unparalleled experience for our Guests,” said Norm Noble, general manager of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. “For 12 consecutive years, Victoria & Albert’s has been the recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award, celebrated the world over thanks to Chef Hunnel’s exquisite culinary creations. Scott’s nomination in the prestigious James Beard Awards for ‘Best Chef: South’ is well deserved.”

Chef Hunnel finds great joy in delivering a ”wow” factor with his culinary creations. He enjoys taking gastronomic journeys around the world for inspiration and ideas. In recent years, his search has taken him to the kitchen of George V in Paris, truffle hunting in Italy, and to markets and restaurants in Hong Kong, Bangkok and London.

“To me, the James Beard recognition is such an honor because the nomination comes from your peers,” said Hunnel. “There are so many talented chefs out there and to be nominated by them is very special.”

Chef Hunnel takes a refreshingly contemporary approach in the kitchen, with a straightforward cooking philosophy: fresh, seasonal ingredients from around the globe with a focus on local markets including seaports in Florida and area farms.

The James Beard Foundation Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and emphasize the Foundation’s mission – celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity. Each year, the Foundation holds an online open call for entries beginning in mid-October.

This year, more than 57,000 entries were received. Semifinalists in 19 awards categories are determined by a governing committee and placed on a nominating ballot sent to more than 550 judges across the country.

Winners will be announced in May during a gala in New York City.