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Watch as Alba chef Joe Tripp, who has been named a 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalist for the Midwest region, prepares a tasting menu for customers at the East Village eatery in Des Moines. Michael Zamora/The Register

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The Des Moines culinary scene received another nod Wednesday morning with the announcement of the James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists.

Joe Tripp, chef at Alba in Des Moines’ East Village earned a spot on the semifinalist list for the 2017 awards under the category “Best Chef: Midwest.” Considered the “Oscars of food,” the James Beard Foundation awards, now in its 27th year, are considered one of the highest honors in the culinary world.

Tripp, who also qualified as a semifinalist in 2016, began his tenure at Alba after a stint at Fruition Restaurant in Denver. A total of 20 chefs were announced as semifinalists in the category. Tripp and the other semifinalists were selected from more than 24,000 online entries for the awards.

Describing the 2017 nomination as a "complete surprise," Tripp said being named a semi-finalist comes with an "overwhelming" amount of gratification. He and Des Moines restaurateur Jason Simon are in the planning phases of a new restaurant on Ingersoll Avenue, called Harbinger. Opening in the former Bistro Montage location, Tripp plans to serve locally-sourced vegetable dishes at the new endeavor.

"It’s such an amazing honor to even be listed with some of the chefs that are on this list," Tripp said.

RELATED: Small plate eatery to take over Bistro Montage space

The James Beard Foundation plans to announce the five finalists for each category March 15, and award winners will be unveiled at the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala in Chicago on May 1.

“The prestigious group of semifinalists in 21 categories represents a wide range of culinary talent, from exceptional chefs and dining destinations in ten different regions across the U.S., to the nation’s top wine and spirits professionals, best new restaurants, rising star chefs, pastry chefs, and bakers,” a news release said.

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Simon earned a “Best Chef: Midwest” nomination in 2011. Eatery A, Simon’s restaurant located on Ingersoll Avenue, received a “Rising Star: Chef” nomination for chef Nic Gonwa in 2015.

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