Food & dining

Who is on the James Beard list of semifinalists this year?

The James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists for its prestigious annual restaurant and chef awards. The Boston area makes a strong showing in national as well as regional categories for 2018.

Les Sablons in Cambridge gets a nod for Best New Restaurant in the country; proprietor Garrett Harker is on the list for Outstanding Restaurateur. Harker is also behind the likes of Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34, and his Eastern Standard receives a nod in the Outstanding Service category.

Ken Oringer of Toro, Uni, Little Donkey, and others is also a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur.


Joanne Chang of Flour is named for Outstanding Chef, and O Ya is named for Outstanding Restaurant.

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The Rising Star Chef of the Year award recognizes chefs who are 30 or under. Locally, the category includes Irene Li of Mei Mei and Juan Pedrosa of Yvonne’s.

Maura Kilpatrick is a nominee in the Outstanding Baker category.
Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe/file
Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra Bakery and Café is a nominee in the Outstanding Baker category.

Now for something sweet: Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Baker category. And in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, we have newcomer Renae Connolly of Benedetto.

And a chaser: The Baldwin Bar in Woburn gets a nod for Outstanding Bar Program. Semifinalists for Outstanding Wine Program include Grill 23 and Taberna de Haro in Brookline, which focuses on Spanish wines. And JC Tetreault and Esther Tetreault of Trillium Brewing Co. make the Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional category.

The rest of New England also fares well in these national categories. Honey Road in Burlington, Vt., is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant; chef-owner Cara Chigazola-Tobin was a longtime chef at Oleana before heading north. For Outstanding Chef, Johanne Killeen of Al Forno in Providence and Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland, Maine, are on the list. Chase’s Daily in Belfast, Maine, is recognized for Outstanding Restaurant. Cara Stadler at Tao Yuan in Brunswick, Maine, is a Rising Star Chef semifinalist. Alison Pray of Standard Baking Co. in Portland is a semifinalist for Outstanding Baker; Ilma Lopez of Piccolo, also in Portland, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. The Back Bay Grill in Portland gets a nod for Outstanding Service. And Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista in Bethel, Vt., is a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.

Tiffani Faison is in contention for Best Chef: Northeast.
Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe/file
Tiffani Faison of Tiger Mama is in contention for Best Chef: Northeast.

The Boston-area semifinalists for Best Chef: Northeast are Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang, Tiffani Faison of Tiger Mama, Seizi Imura of Cafe Sushi, Tony Messina of Uni, and Cassie Piuma of Sarma.

Also named as semifinalists in this regional category: Unmi Abkin of Coco & The Cellar Bar in Easthampton; Tyler Anderson of Millwright’s in Simsbury, Conn.; Cara Chigazola-Tobin of Honey Road in Burlington, Vt.; Krista Kern Desjarlais of The Purple House in North Yarmouth, Maine; Vien Dobui of Cong Tu Bot in Portland, Maine; Erin French of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine; Victor Parra Gonzalez of Las Puertas in Buffalo; Brian Lewis of The Cottage in Westport, Conn.; Matt Louis of Moxy in Portsmouth, N.H.; Ravin Nakjaroen of Long Grain in Camden, Maine; Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels of 18 Bay Restaurant in Shelter Island, N.Y.; Champe Speidel of Persimmon in Providence; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland, Maine; Nick Suarez of Gaskins in Germantown, N.Y.; and Benjamin Sukle of Oberlin in Providence.

Find the complete list of semifinalists here. The list of final nominees for the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards will be released March 14, and the winners will be announced May 7.

Devra First can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.