Alabama chef Bill Briand has gone from Emeril to elite as a James Beard semifinalist

Alabama chef Bill Briand has gone from Emeril to elite as a James Beard semifinalist
Fisher's Upstairs Executive Chef Bill Briand is a semifinalist for "Best Chef: South" in the James Beard Foundation Awards. (Mike Kittrell / Alabama NewsCenter)

Salads are good for you. Sometimes they even put you on the path to the semifinals for “Best Chef: South” from the James Beard Foundation Awards.

That was the case for Bill Briand. He was working as a food runner at a restaurant when the salad guy walked out. Briand, then 18, jumped on the station and never looked back.

Bill Briand of Fisher’s Upstairs in Orange Beach a James Beard semifinalist from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

He trained under New Orleans icon Emeril Lagasse for several years before going to work for noted New Orleans restaurateur Donald Link, behind such buzz-worthy restaurants as Peche, Butcher, Herbsaint and Cochon.

Briand moved to Orange Beach four years ago to open Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina restaurant. Briand is executive chef of the fine dining Fisher’s Upstairs restaurant.

For the second straight year, Briand is among the semifinalists for “Best Chef: South” in the James Beard Foundation Awards, one of the most coveted culinary prizes.

“This nomination is huge for us,” Briand told Alabama NewsCenter. “It’s kind of a trademark for quality. There’s not anybody that’s on that list that’s just throwing something together. They really take pride in their seafood or their food in general.”

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