The Beard Awards, among the most prestigious in the fields of food and food-related media, were announced today. We’re pleased to report that food columnist Mike Sula and regular contributor Cliff Doerksen (whom you’ll find in Bad News From the Past, our movies section, and here and there) are two of the three finalists for the award in newspaper feature writing:

* Mike Sula for “The Charcuterie Underground: In the view of a burgeoning number of outlaw bacon curers and sausage grinders, some rules are made to be broken” (11/26/09)

* Cliff Doerksen for “The Real American Pie: Mince pie was once inextricable from our national identity. Blamed for bad health, murderous dreams, the downfall of Prohibition, and the decline of the white race, it nonetheless persisted as an American staple through the 1940s. So what happened?” (12/17/09)

Other local finalists include the Tribune‘s Kevin Pang (The Cheeseburger Show, “Plan D”) and Monica Eng (“Nacho Lunch? Yes, Every Day”); Eight Forty-Eight; Steve Dolinsky; Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (Outstanding Pastry Chef); Spiaggia (Outstanding Restaurant); Richard Melman of Lettuce Entertain You* (Outstanding Restaurateur); Alinea (Outstanding Service).

Tim Carman of our sister Washington City Paper also received a nomination for “How Not to Hire a Chef / The Canning Process.”

Korn Design, which isn’t local, also got a nomination for their graphic work for Jose Garces’s splashy, highly recommended Mercat a la Planxa.

A full PDF of the nominees is available here.

* One of my favorite recent Reader articles, about Melman and his empire, is a must-read: Let Us Now Praise R.J. Grunts: How Rich Melman and his Lettuce Entertain You empire set the scene for Chicago’s culinary revolution (Elizabeth M. Tamny, 4/13/06).