Chefs

Here Are the 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists from Boston and New England

From O Ya, to Les Sablons, even Trillium Brewing, and more, Boston and New England are well represented.

Clockwise from top left 1) Sushi chef Hiro Konishi at O Ya. / Photograph by Adam Detour for Best Restaurants 2014 2) Benedetto pastry chef Renae Connolly / Photograph by Toan Trinh for Best of Boston 2017 3) Mei Mei chef Irene Li / Photo provided 4) Yvonne's chef Juan Pedrosa / Photo by Toan Trinh for Best of Boston 2017 5) Restarateur Ken Oringer / Photo provided by Uni 6) Flour Bakery + Cafe chef Joanne Chang / Photograph by David Yellen for "The Interview: Joanne Chang"

Clockwise from top left 1) Sushi chef Hiro Konishi at O Ya. / Photograph by Adam Detour for Best Restaurants 2014 2) Benedetto pastry chef Renae Connolly / Photograph by Toan Trinh for Best of Boston 2017 3) Mei Mei chef Irene Li / Photo provided 4) Yvonne’s chef Juan Pedrosa / Photo by Toan Trinh for Best of Boston 2017 5) Restarateur Ken Oringer / Photo provided by Uni 6) Flour Bakery + Cafe chef Joanne Chang / Photograph by David Yellen for “The Interview: Joanne Chang

The gang’s all here, Boston: The 2018 James Beard Award semifinalists were announced this morning, and among the honorees are some very familiar names.

Among the high-profile nominees are Joanne Chang, up for Outstanding Chef this year; Myers + Chang executive chef Karen Akunowicz, Ken Oringer with his restaurateur hat on, Benedetto pastry chef Renae Connolly, the decadent experience that is dining at O Ya, and more.

New England is also well-represented in beverage categories: Trillium Brewing cofounders JC and Esther Tetreault share the Outstanding Beverage Professional nomination with Deirdre Heekin of Vermont’s La Garagista Winery. Woburn’s Baldwin Bar is among the Outstanding Bar Program nominees, while Grill 23’s wine program continues to impress. And ¡salud, Taberna de Haro!

Irene Li (Mei Mei) and Juan Pedrosa (Yvonne’s) continue to rise as stars this year, while it’s exciting to see new nominees, like the venerable Tiffani Faison and Cafe Sushi’s Seizi Imura, among the Best Chef: Northeast contenders.

Garrett Harker, up again for Best Restaurateur, has another James Beard Award semifinalist restaurant in his portfolio, as Harvard Square’s Les Sablons is on the list. So is Honey Road, the most buzzed-about opening in the great state of Vermont in recent memory. Honey Road is the ownership debut from Cara Chigazola-Tobin, formerly of Cambridge’s James Beard Award-winning Oleana.

The “Oscars of the Food World,” as these awards are often called, represent culinary professionals in 21 different restaurant and chef categories. On Wednesday, March 14, five final nominees will be announced in Philadelphia, by James Beard Award–winning restaurateur Stephen Starr. The annual awards gala is May 7 in Chicago, and will also feature awards for Restaurant Design categories, and special achievement awards like America’s Classics—this year, North End favorite Galleria Umberto will be fêted in that category.

Check out the full list of New England-based chef and restaurant semifinalists below. Find the full lineup online.

L to R: 1) La Garagista Winery's Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin / Photograph by Caleb Kenna for "Bottle Shock" 2) Grill 23 & Bar corporate beverage director Brahm Callahan. / Photo for Wine Spectator by Michael Piazza used with permission 3) Trillium Brewing cofounders JC and Esther Tetrault. / Photograph by Toan Trinh for for "Trillium Attempts to Move Past Cult Status"

L to R: 1) La Garagista Winery’s Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin / Photograph by Caleb Kenna for “Bottle Shock” 2) Grill 23 & Bar corporate beverage director Brahm Callahan. / Photo for Wine Spectator by Michael Piazza used with permission 3) Trillium Brewing cofounders JC and Esther Tetrault. / Photograph by Toan Trinh for for “Trillium Attempts to Move Past Cult Status

Best New Restaurant

  • Les Sablons, Cambridge, MA
  • Honey Road, Burlington, VT

Outstanding Baker

  • Alison Pray, Standard Baking Co., Portland, ME
  • Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge, MA

Outstanding Bar Program

  • The Baldwin Bar, Woburn, MA

Outstanding Chef

  • Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston
  • Sam Hayward, Fore Street, Portland, ME
  • Johanne Killeen, Al Forno, Providence

Outstanding Pastry Chef

  • Renae Connolly, Benedetto, Cambridge, MA
  • Ilma Lopez, Piccolo, Portland, ME

Outstanding Restaurant

  • Chase’s Daily, Belfast, ME
  • O Ya, Boston

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Garrett Harker, Boston (Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34, and others)
  • Ken Oringer, Boston (Uni, Toro, Coppa, and others)

Outstanding Service

  • The Back Bay Grill, Portland, ME
  • Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, Boston

Outstanding Wine Program 

  • Grill 23 & Bar, Boston
  • Taberna de Haro, Brookline, MA

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional

  • Deirdre Heekin, La Garagista, Bethel, VT
  • JC Tetreault and Esther Tetreault, Trillium Brewing Company, Boston

Rising Star Chef of the Year 

  • Irene Li, Mei Mei, Boston
  • Juan Pedrosa, Yvonne’s, Boston
  • Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick, ME

Best Chefs: Northeast

  • Unmi Abkin, Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton, MA
  • Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang, Boston
  • Tyler Anderson, Millwright’s, Simsbury, CT
  • Cara Chigazola-Tobin, Honey Road, Burlington, VT
  • Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House, North Yarmouth, ME
  • Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot, Portland, ME
  • Tiffani Faison, Tiger Mama, Boston
  • Erin French, The Lost Kitchen, Freedom, ME
  • Victor Parra Gonzalez, Las Puertas, Buffalo, NY
  • Seizi Imura, Cafe Sushi, Cambridge, MA
  • Brian Lewis, The Cottage, Westport, CT
  • Matt Louis, Moxy, Portsmouth, NH
  • Tony Messina, Uni, Boston
  • Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain, Camden, ME
  • Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA
  • Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels, 18 Bay Restaurant, Shelter Island, NY
  • Champe Speidel, Persimmon, Providence
  • Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, Rockland, ME
  • Nick Suarez, Gaskins, Germantown, NY
  • Benjamin Sukle, Oberlin, Providence