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Here Are the Local James Beard Foundation Semifinalists for 2019

The finalists will be announced on March 27

A silver James Beard medal is isolated on a black background
James Beard award
James Beard Foundation [Official Photo]

Today, the James Beard Foundation dropped its list of semifinalists for the 2019 restaurant and chef awards, with a strong showing from New England. Last October, the foundation changed its policies with a goal of diversifying the decision makers and award winners. The makeup of its awards committees mirror U.S. census demographics for the first time.

With the semifinalist announcement today, judges and committee members will now vote to pare the list down to five finalist nominees per category; that list will be announced in Houston on March 27. The final winners will be announced on May 6 in Chicago, while the media award winners will be unveiled on April 26.

Here are the New England semifinalists for 2019 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards, which include familiar names from past years, such as Irene Li, Cassie Piuma, Ken Oringer, and Tony Messina:



  • Maura Kilpatrick (Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge) — Outstanding Baker semifinalist
  • Ana Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge) — Outstanding Chef semifinalist
  • Ken Oringer (Little Donkey, Toro, Uni, and others, Boston and beyond) — Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist
  • Irene Li (Mei Mei, Boston) — Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist
  • Giselle Miller (Menton, Boston) — Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist
  • Unmi Abkin (Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Carl Dooley (The Table at Season to Taste, Cambridge) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Tiffani Faison (Tiger Mama, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Seizi Imura (Cafe Sushi, Cambridge) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Tony Messina (Uni, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Cassie Piuma (Sarma, Somerville) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Peter Ungár (Tasting Counter, Somerville) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist


  • Celeste (Somerville) — Best New Restaurant semifinalist
  • Chickadee (Boston) — Best New Restaurant semifinalist
  • The Baldwin Bar (Woburn) — Outstanding Bar Program semifinalist
  • O Ya (Boston) — Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist
  • The Butcher Shop (Boston) — Outstanding Wine Program semifinalist
  • Haley.Henry (Boston) — Outstanding Wine Program semifinalist



  • Alison Pray (Standard Baking Co., Portland) — Outstanding Baker semifinalist
  • Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell (Palace Diner, Biddeford) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Krista Kern Desjarlais (The Purple House, North Yarmouth) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Vien Dobui (Cong Tu Bot, Portland) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Erin French (The Lost Kitchen, Freedom) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Keiko Suzuki Steinberger (Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, Rockland) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Rob Tod (Allagash Brewing Company, Portland) — Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer semifinalist


  • Fore Street (Portland) — Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist
  • Back Bay Grill (Portland) — Outstanding Service semifinalist


  • Whang Suh (Hen & Heifer, Guilford) — Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalist
  • Tyler Anderson (Millwright’s, Simsbury) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist


  • Deirdre Heekin (La Garagista, Bethel) — Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer semifinalist
  • Cara Chigazola-Tobin (Honey Road, Burlington) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist

New Hampshire

  • Evan Mallett ( Black Trumpet, Portsmouth) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • David Vargas (Vida Cantina, Portsmouth) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist

Rhode Island

  • James Mark (North, Providence) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Benjamin Sukle (Oberlin, Providence) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.

James Beard Foundation [Official Site]
Here Are the 2019 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists [E]
How the James Beard Awards Are Trying to Be More Diverse [E]

Uni Boston

370A Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 536-7200 Visit Website

Little Donkey

505 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 945-1008 Visit Website

The Table at Season to Taste

2447 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (617) 871-9468 Visit Website

Mei Mei (Boston)

506 Park Dr., Boston, MA 02215 (857) 250-4959 Visit Website


21 Drydock Avenue, , MA 02210 (617) 531-5591 Visit Website

Tiger Mama

1363 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 425-6262 Visit Website


1704 Washington Street, , MA 02118 (617) 536-4300 Visit Website


21 Bow Street, , MA 02143 (617) 616-5319 Visit Website

Tasting Counter

14 Tyler Street, , MA 02143 (617) 299-6362 Visit Website

Honey Road

, Burlington, VT Visit Website


134 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 661-0505 Visit Website


354 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 737-0099 Visit Website


45 Province Street, , MA 02108 (617) 208-6000 Visit Website


50 Northern Avenue, , MA 02210 (617) 737-5051 Visit Website


186 Union Street, , RI 02903 (401) 588-8755 Visit Website

o ya

9 East Street, , MA 02111 (617) 654-9900 Visit Website


249 Pearl Street, , MA 02145 (617) 764-4464 Visit Website

Cafe Sushi

1105 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02138 (617) 492-0434 Visit Website

The Butcher Shop (Boston)

552 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118 (617) 423-4800 Visit Website