2022 James Beard Awards

James Beard Semi-finalists were announced. New England has a few places represented.

Shout out to Chef Patricia Estorino of Gustazo in my little hamlet of Waltham :wink:

Outstanding Chef

  • Douglass Williams, MIDA, Boston

Best New Restaurant
Café Mamajuana, Burlington, VT

  • Leeward, Portland, ME

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Kate Fisher Hamm, Leeward, Portland, ME

Outstanding Baker
Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME

Outstanding Hospitality (Presented by American Airlines)
BaoBao Dumpling House, Portland, ME

Outstanding Wine Program
Rebel Rebel, Somerville, MA

Outstanding Bar Program
The Jewel Box, Portland, ME

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

  • Bowman Brown, Elda, Biddeford, ME
  • Vien Dobui, CÔNG TỬ BỘT, Portland, ME
  • Patricia Estorino, Gustazo Cuban Kitchen & Bar, Waltham and Cambridge, MA
  • Tiffani Faison, Orfano, Boston
  • Jeff Fournier, Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, NH
  • Daniel Gursha, Ledger, Salem, MA
  • Tico Huynh, Yvonne’s, Boston
  • Ben Jackson, Magnus on Water, Biddeford, ME
  • Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta, Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, Boston
  • Christian Kruse, Black Flannel Brewing Company, Essex Junction, VT
  • Brian Lewis, The Cottage, Westport, CT
  • Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food and Beverage, Portland, ME
  • Macarena Ludena, Cora Cora, West Hartford, CT
  • Nisachon Morgan, Saap, Randolph, VT
  • Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA
  • William Rietzel, COAST, Watch Hill, RI
  • Damian Sansonetti, Chaval, Portland, ME
  • John DaSilva, Chickadee, Boston
  • David Schrier, Jessica Pollard and David Clegg, Daily Operation, Easthampton, MA
  • David Vargas, Vida Cantina, Portsmouth, NH
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I’m a bit puzzled by the Douglass Williams nomination. We’ve been to the Newton Mida outpost twice and while we enjoyed several of the apps, every pasta dish we tried was over cooked, on both occasions. Getting al dente pasta to the table is not rocket science, it just takes attention to detail.

James Beard awards are as much about cooking abilities as they are about the “right” connections in the restaurant industry

Well …yes…isn’t that why it’s interesting to hear what peoples experiences are at these places?

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Steve Johnson said as much when I asked him why he wasn’t nominated.

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yeah - awards can tend to bring out the worst in people.

Yes, but I am surprised that people are surprised that restaurants with potentially not to so great food could still be nominated for JB - it’s less about food, more about connections (and that’s not Boston specific but seen at many places wrt JB awards)

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I’m interested in which ones you consider to serve not so great food. I’ve only been to Sarma, and have many times, including getting take out when they were offering it early in the pandemic. We are big fans of Sarma in my house, and always have been.

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Obviously I can only rely on own experience from before Covid and foodie friends with whom I still often discuss food around Boston.
Based on previous experience Mida must have made incredible improvements recently to be on that level. Same with Orfano which was quite underwhelming in my visit (but Faison is quite present on Eater, social media). Over the 5 years in Boston we were twice at Gustazo which was not a bad restaurant but I wouldn’t put it in the top tier when you have places like Sycamore or Giulia (to name two) around which in my opinion are much better in creativity, execution.

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While I’ve never been to an award winning restaurant that I haven’t liked, I can agree that not all of them are “above” other places.

Does anyone know how the James Beard selections are made? Do people have to “apply” to be considered? I’ve never really looked into that.

They’ve changed things up since Covid started. This is a decent primer https://jbf-media.s3.amazonaws.com/production/page/2021/9/13/James_Beard_Awards_Audit_Recommendations.pdf

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As meaningless as ever

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I’m anon6418899 and I don’t approve of this list

First of all, how are you gonna include everyone in the open call? Second of all, how are you gonna rate these places and chefs from wildly different backgrounds, social statuses, cuisines, and price ranges? Third of all, the results are very predictable and shockingly lacking in “diversity”. There are always duds on there. I looked at this DC mini chain of Sichuan places, an area where Chinese food is shockingly barren and bad. It’s in the running. I asked my sister she lives there. She was like, “OMG it’s terrible, I don’t know who that [owner] sleeps with to get all his accolades.” I went to Yvonne’s to take some out of towners there, it was galling parsimonious. The first dish, we all literally thought it was an amuse bouche! But no, it was mid teens small plate! Nothing stood out to me and it’s sad that it’s in the running as one of two Asian chefs. I can think of half a dozen Asian chefs in my speed dials that deserve this kind of publicity. And that’s all this is by the way, publicity. I like Tiffani Faison, but I think she’s a better entrepreneur than chef. The only entry I am happy to see is Gustazo, it would have been very easy to skip them and pigeonhole them as “ethnic” but yea, it’s clearly one of the top tier places in Cambridge.

The food writing industry is pretty slanted, myopic, and still in 2022, not very diverse or representative of reality. I guess that’s why I took up the mantle. I think there are much better ways of celebrating and marketing deserving chefs and restaurants, especially the ones that could really use it. I’m just a guy with a laptop, so I do what I can.

We could do our own awards but I kinda think no one here wants to get into that.

I’m not really into mandatory diversity or quotas at all, I just want something kinda fair, just. Is it too much to ask? Probably.

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Which list? Oh, I assume NE?

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I looked at the national one too

I’m fooddabbler and I’m indifferent to this list.

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I’m thines, and I’m happy to hear about new places, try new things, and give people a chance before I summarily dismiss them. And in these times anyone still surviving the food business deserves at least a shot.

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I think we’re all happy to hear about new places. Unfortunately there isn’t much new on this list. The only thing anyone is dismissing is the absurdity of these awards.

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One rule I would do is if you’ve been nominated twice, you just automatically get an award for best chef and sit out future years. Otherwise it’s like the same 5 chefs crowding out everyone else

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I have heard at least three similar reports (though mostly soon after opening) from friends and neighbors, which is why we haven’t bothered yet despite living in the area.