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Here Are the New England James Beard Foundation Nominees for 2020

Massachusetts and Maine make a strong showing this year

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

In late February, the James Beard Foundation made the usual announcement of its long list of semifinalists for its annual restaurant and chef awards, including many New England chefs and restaurants, many of whom have been semifinalists in the past. Today, May 4, via livestream, the organization announced the pared-down list of nominees for the restaurant and chef awards, as well as nominees in the media areas of books, broadcast, and journalism. The organization also announced its leadership award recipients and design icon honoree today. The nominees and honorees announced today were voted on by over 600 judges from around the country and the organization’s committee members.

Several honorees were announced earlier in the year, including six restaurants dubbed “America’s Classics.” One is from New England — Puritan Backroom in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Normally, today’s list would have been announced earlier in the year; today was originally supposed to be the actual awards ceremony, but given the current pandemic situation, everything has been delayed. Instead, the media winners will be announced via press release on May 27, and the restaurant and chef winners will be announced in Chicago on September 25.

Here are the New England nominees for 2020 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards (check out the full list here):

MASSACHUSETTS

  • Ana Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge) — Outstanding Chef nominee (Sortun was a semifinalist in this category last year.)
  • Cassie Piuma (Sarma, Somerville) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee (Piuma was a semifinalist and nominee in this category last year.)
  • Fox & the Knife (Boston) — Best New Restaurant nominee (Chef and owner Karen Akunowicz won a 2018 Beard for Best Chef: Northeast.)
  • Hacin + Associates (Shore Leave, Boston) — Design, 76 Seats and Over nominee
  • Irene Li (Mei Mei, Boston) — Rising Star Chef of the Year nominee (Li was a semifinalist in this category last year.)
  • Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer (JK Food Group [Little Donkey, Toro, Coppa], Boston) — Outstanding Restaurateur nominees (Oringer was a semifinalist and nominee in this category last year.)
  • Maura Kilpatrick (Sofra Bakery, Cambridge) — Outstanding Baker nominee (Kilpatrick was a semifinalist and nominee in this category last year.)
  • Tiffani Faison (Orfano, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee (Faison was a semifinalist and nominee in this category last year for her work at Tiger Mama.)

MAINE

  • Ben Jackson (Drifters Wife, Portland) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee
  • Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley (Palace Diner, Biddeford) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee (Mitchell and Conley were semifinalists in this category last year.)
  • Krista Kern Desjarlais (The Purple House, North Yarmouth) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee (Kern Desjarlais was a semifinalist in this category last year.)
  • Vien Dobui (CÔNG TỬ BỘT, Portland) — Best Chef: Northeast nominee (Dobui was a semifinalist in this category last year.)

Some local names turned up among the media nominees as well, including food writer Devra First for her work in The Boston Globe; restaurateur Joanne Chang for her newest cookbook, Pastry Love; and local recipe powerhouses Milk Street Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen for cookbooks.

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

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