On Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2018 James Beard Awards, some of the most prestigious awards in the restaurant and beverage industry. Massachusetts made a strong showing on the list, just as it did in 2017, and every state in New England earned at least one semifinalist nomination.
Among the highlights are repeat semifinalist nominations for Cassie Piuma of Sarma, Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang, Tony Messina of Uni, and Unmi Abkin of Coco & The Cellar Bar in Easthampton for Best Chef – Northeast, as well as repeat nominations for Irene Li of Mei Mei and Juan Pedrosa of Yvonne’s for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
In 2017, despite a number of restaurants and people in the region serving as semifinalists and finalists, the only winners from New England were Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, who was one of five honored as the “Who’s Who of Food and Drink in America,” and Eventide Oyster Co. owner/chef duo Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, who took home the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Chef – Northeast.
Here is a full list of the 2018 semifinalist nominees from Massachusetts.
Best New Restaurant
Les Sablons, Cambridge
Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge
Outstanding Bar Program
The Baldwin Bar, Woburn
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Renae Connolly, Benedetto, Cambridge
O Ya, Boston
Garrett Harker, Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34, and others, Boston
Ken Oringer, Uni, Little Donkey, Toro, and others, Boston
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, Boston
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
JC Tetreault and Esther Tetreault, Trillium Brewing Company, Boston
Outstanding Wine Program
Grill 23 & Bar, Boston
Taberna de Haro, Brookline
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Irene Li, Mei Mei, Boston
Juan Pedrosa, Yvonne’s, Boston
Best Chef — Northeast
Unmi Abkin, Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton
Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang, Boston
Tiffani Faison, Tiger Mama, Boston
Seizi Imura, Cafe Sushi, Cambridge
Tony Messina, Uni, Boston
Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville
For a full list of semifinalists both in New England and nationwide, check out the foundation’s website.