Post Falls' Fleur de Sel chef-owner is 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist

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Chef Zirroti opened Fleur de Sel in 2008. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chef Zirroti opened Fleur de Sel in 2008.

For the third consecutive year, one of the Inland Northwest's finest minds in food has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award.

French-born Chef Laurent Zirotti, who owns the Post Falls destination spot Fleur de Sel, is the only chef from the Inland Northwest to be named in the Best Chef: Northwest award category, joining a list of 19 others mostly from the Portland and Seattle area.

In 2016, local chef and restaurant owner Adam Hegsted was named a semifinalist in the same category, as was Spokane chef-owner Jeremy Hansen in 2015.

The announcement honoring Zirotti, who opened Fleur de Sel in 2008 with his wife Patricia, comes at an ideal time if you've never been — and if you take every chance you get to visit the celebrated restaurant, familiarly known as FDS — as we're only about a week away from the start of 2017 Inlander Restaurant Week (Feb. 23-March 5). Find Fleur de Sel's $29 per person menu at InlanderRestaurantWeek.com. (As a diner who was introduced to the restaurant during last year's IRW, I highly recommend the chicken and truffles.)

The list of 2017 James Beard Award semifinalists will be narrowed down again a month from now, to five nominees in each category, on March 15. Final winners in each of the 21 award categories are then honored during a special event May 1 in Chicago.

The James Beard Awards are organized by its namesake James Beard Foundation, which opens an online call for entries in October. More than 24,000 entries were received for the Foundation's 27th annual honors.