The James Beard Foundation announced its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists Wednesday, with a French-Vietnamese seafood standout in Lynn and a Cambodian restaurant in Lowell making the list.
Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, culminating with an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, in Chicago. The awards — usually compared to the Oscars — recognize talent in the restaurant and food media industries.
The local semifinalist roster showcases restaurants that tend to simmer beneath the radar. Rachel Miller from Lynn’s Nightshade Noodle Bar — which started as a small pop-up and recently earned five stars from Globe food critic Devra First — received a nod in the Outstanding Chef category. Miller came to Boston on a Chinatown bus as a teenager, and her first job was as a butcher at Lionette’s in the South End. David Vargas from Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, N.H., also received a nomination. His restaurant is housed in a converted Friendly’s, separate from downtown, and known for pig’s head platters.
Red Rose, a simple and beloved Cambodian restaurant in Lowell, was named to the Outstanding Restaurant category. So was Pagu in Cambridge, run by Tracy Chang. Chang founded two nonprofits during the pandemic: Off Their Plate, providing meals to frontline health care workers, and Project Restore Us, delivering groceries and provisions to families in need while paying restaurant workers to pack them. Cora Cora in West Hartford, Conn., was also nominated.
In the Outstanding Restaurateur category, Krista Cole from Sur Lie and Gather Restaurant in Portland was the sole New England nominee. Meanwhile, two Cambridge spots were recognized as up-and-comers: Cicada Coffee Bar’s Vinh Lee is a semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category, while groovy Huron Village Peruvian spot La Royal was honored in the Best New Restaurant category alongside wolfpeach in Camden, Maine. La Royal is run by Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón, also known for Celeste in Union Square.
The news was less sweet for Boston in the Outstanding Bakery category, although Haymaker Bun Company in Middlebury, Vt.,, did get a nod. Atsuko Fujimoto from Norimoto Bakery, Portland, Maine, is an Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker semifinalist. So is Amanda Wildermuth, from Honey Road, in Burlington, Vt.
In Somerville, Rebel Rebel is on the list for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages; the Jewel Box in Portland, Maine, is an Outstanding Bar. Two Maine restaurants — The Quarry in Monson and Sur Lie in Portland — were nominated for Outstanding Hospitality.
Last but certainly not least, many Boston chefs made the cut in the regional Best Chef: Northeast category, representing a variety of cuisines: Valentine Howell from Krasi; Yahya Noor from Tawakal Halal Café; Yisha Siu from Yunnan Kitchen; Derrick Teh from Sekali; and Douglass Williams from MIDA. In Somerville, Ellie Tiglao from the now-closed Tanám, a destination for Filipino food, is on the list.
Several Rhode Island chefs are up for Best Chef: Northeast, as well: Robert Andreozzi of Pizza Marvin in Providence; Sherry Pocknett of Sly Fox Den Too in Charlestown; and Milena Pagán of Little Sister in Providence.
Here is the complete list of semifinalists for Best Chef: Northeast
Robert Andreozzi, Pizza Marvin, Providence
Paul Callahan, Vino e Vivo, Exeter, N.H.
Jeff Fournier, Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, N.H.
Mojo Hancy-Davis, May Day, Burlington, Vt.
Valentine Howell, Krasi, Boston
Christian Hunter, Community Table, Washington, Conn.
Sara Jenkins, Nina June, Rockport, Maine
Jason LaVerdiere, Flux, Lisbon Falls, Maine
Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food & Beverage, Portland
Alganesh Michael, A Taste of Abyssinia, South Burlington, Vt.
Yahya Noor, Tawakal Halal Cafe, Boston
Tony Pastor, Fore Street, Portland
Isaul Perez, Isa, Portland
Sherry Pocknett, Sly Fox Den Too, Charlestown, R.I.
Yisha Siu, Yunnan Kitchen, Boston
Derrick Teh, SEKALI, Boston
Ellie Tiglao, Tanám, Somerville
Renee Touponce, The Port of Call, Mystic, Conn.
Milena Pagán, Little Sister, Providence
Douglass Williams, MIDA, Boston
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.