On Wednesday morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2019 James Beard Awards, a revered celebration of restaurants, chefs, and industry professionals who are currently at the top of their field.
This year, Massachusetts solidly represented among the semifinalists, with 18 restaurants and chefs nominated. Highlights included a nomination for Tiffani Faison for Best Chef—Northeast (for her Southeast Asian–inspired spot Tiger Mama), Irene Li of Mei Mei for Rising Star Chef of the Year, and both Peruvian darling Celeste and Seaport newcomer Chickadee for Best New Restaurant.
There was a noticeable absence of Massachusetts semifinalists in the categories for Outstanding Pastry Chef and Outstanding Service, which last year included Renae Connolly of Benedetto in Cambridge and Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks in Boston, respectively. In fact, last year’s 2018 semifinalist list had a slightly larger showing from Massachusetts overall — 20 nominations — and the foundation ultimately awarded Karen Akunowicz, chef and owner of the recently opened Italian enoteca Fox & the Knife, the prize for Best Chef: Northeast.
Other 2019 New England nominations included Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell of Palace Diner in Biddeford, Maine (Best Chef—Northeast), Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista in Bethel, Vt. (Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer), and Whang Suh of Hen & Heifer in Guilford, Ct. (Outstanding Pastry Chef).
Here is a full list of the 2019 semifinalist nominees from Massachusetts.
Best New Restaurant
Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge
Outstanding Bar Program
The Baldwin Bar, Woburn
Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge
O Ya, Boston
Ken Oringer, Boston (Little Donkey, Toro, Uni, and others)
Outstanding Wine Program
The Butcher Shop, Boston
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Irene Li, Mei Mei, Boston
Giselle Miller, Menton, Boston
Unmi Abkin, Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton
Carl Dooley, The Table at Season to Taste, Cambridge
Tiffani Faison, Tiger Mama, Boston
Seizi Imura, Cafe Sushi, Cambridge
Tony Messina, Uni, Boston
Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville
Peter Ungár, Tasting Counter, Somerville
For a full list of the 2019 James Beard Award semifinalists, including those from the rest of New England, check out the foundation’s website.