The James Beard Foundation’s 2024 Semifinalist List Is Here

Two local wine bars make the cut; plus, Dorchester’s Comfort Kitchen gets a nod in the coveted Best New Restaurant category.

Two sliders sit on a plate, filled with a pulled meat substitute and arugula.

Comfort Kitchen’s jerk jackfruit sliders. / Photo by Rita Ferreira/Comfort Kitchen

It’s James Beard Foundation awards season again, starting with today’s announcement of the semifinalists for 2024 chef and restaurant awards. This year, only three local spots got recognized in categories outside of the Northeast-region chef prize (we’ve got seven in that category—one more than in 2023). Last year’s outstanding semifinalist list named six local people and places in the national categories, so not quite the same volume this year—but still, plenty to celebrate, not to mention a high number of exciting nominees from our neighbors in other parts of New England.

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The quick rundown on the Beards: They’re the big-deal awards in the United States restaurant realm, often referred to as the Oscars of the food world. Awards are given in 22 categories that recognize culinary talent and more across the hospitality world, from chefs to beverage professionals to bakers. The voting body includes Beard Foundation subcommittee members and appointed judges throughout the country, and recommendations gleaned through a public open call are also considered. (Find some of the nitty-gritty details, ethics policies, and more information here.) Today’s semifinalist list will get whittled down to a smaller nominee list (announced April 3), and the winners will be announced at a June 10 gala in Chicago.

Here’s the rundown on the Greater Boston semifinalists for 2024, plus a quick look at semifinalists elsewhere in New England.

Overhead view of two crispy patties on a white sauce with a side salad.

Comfort Kitchen’s potato curry cakes. / Photo by Rita Ferreira/Comfort Kitchen

Local Semifinalists in National Categories

Comfort Kitchen

Best New Restaurant semifinalist

This one feels like a no-brainer—indeed, we gave it our own Best New Restaurant award last year. For this prestigious category, the Beards voting body is looking for a restaurant that opened between October 2022 and September 2023 that is already demonstrating “consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positive to its broader community.” Check, check, and check. This Dorchester destination gives diners a global lesson in flavors of the African diaspora, which means anything from jerk roasted duck leg with pikliz to potato curry cakes with tomato jam and lemon yogurt. While dinner service makes for a special night out, Comfort Kitchen by day offers more casual and affordable café service. (We adore the Nepali chiya, a warming milk tea, with whatever house-made pastry looks tempting that day.) And the food and hospitable team aren’t the only highlights here—the space itself is an impressive, multi-year restoration of a historical comfort station that had been an eyesore in the neighborhood since its closure in the 1970s.

611 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, Boston, 617-329-6910,

Haley.Henry Wine Bar

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program semifinalist

This gem of a downtown wine bar has been a welcoming respite from the work day since its 2016 debut, highlighting “responsibly sourced/natural/small production” wines, complemented by good vibes and a snacky, fun menu of tinned fish, charcuterie, and a few heartier plates (such as braised short rib with celeriac puree and kale). Don’t miss Weiner Wednesdays, weekly themed hot dog specials. We’re also big fans of the annual holiday-season lunches.

45 Province St., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-208-6000,

Rebel Rebel

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program semifinalist 

Somerville’s natural wine nook Rebel Rebel, from sommelier Lauren Friel, also landed on the semifinalist list (last year, too) in the wine category. This always-bustling, intimate bar at Union Square’s Bow Market markets itself as a “no bullshit” spot for community engagement and never shies away from getting loud, getting political, and raising funds for worthy causes. If this sounds like your type of place, it probably is. And if not, well, as the bar’s website puts it: “Leave your misogyny, your homophobia, your racism, your classism, your ableism, your patriarchy, your gender bias, and all your other bullshit at the door, ‘cause that shit will get you kicked out real quick.”

One Bow Market Way (Bow Market), Union Square, Somerville,

Two white bowls sit on a pale green tray, one featuring thick noodle rolls with fish balls and a swoosh of sriracha, the other with chopped cucumbers.

Rubato’s ji cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) with curry fish balls and a spicy cucumber salad. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Best Chef: Northeast Semifinalists

The Beard Foundation breaks up the country into 12 regions for the regional Best Chef awards, which are granted to “chefs who set high standards in their culinary skills and leaderships abilities and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture … while contributing positively to their broader community.” The Northeast region includes Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont alongside Massachusetts; here are this year’s Massachusetts semifinalists.

A silver bowl is full of chicken chunks, potatoes, peppers, and thick noodles.

Jahunger’s chicken stew with hand-pulled noodles. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

New England Semifinalists Beyond Massachusetts

While we can always hope for more Boston-area recognition, it’s a good year for New England as a whole, with a strong showing across multiple categories. These are the 2024 chef and restaurant semifinalists throughout the region, beyond Massachusetts:

  • Cara Stadler and Cecile Stadler, BaoBao Dumpling House, Tao Yuan Restaurant, and ZaoZe Cafe & Market, Portland, ME — Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist
  • Chris Viaud, Greenleaf, Ansanm, and Pavilion, Milford, NH — Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist
  • Renee Touponce, The Port of Call, Mystic, CT — Outstanding Chef semifinalist
  • Bywater, Warren, RI — Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist
  • Coracora, West Hartford, CT — Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist
  • Sky Haneul Kim, Gift Horse, Providence, RI — Emerging Chef semifinalist
  • Joe Robbins, Bissell Brothers Three Rivers Kitchen, Milo, ME — Emerging Chef semifinalist
  • The Alna Store, Alna, ME — Best New Restaurant semifinalist
  • Tuxpan Taqueria, Central Falls, RI — Best New Restaurant semifinalist
  • ZU Bakery, Portland, ME — Outstanding Bakery semifinalist
  • Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME — Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker semifinalist
  • Kristina Zontini, Super Secret Ice Cream, Bethlehem, NH — Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker semifinalist
  • Giusto, Newport, RI — Outstanding Hospitality semifinalist
  • Woodford Food & Beverage, Portland, ME — Outstanding Hospitality semifinalist
  • Barr Hill Cocktail Bar, Montpelier, VT — Outstanding Bar semifinalist
  • Courtland Club, Providence, RI — Outstanding Bar semifinalist
  • Celia Bruns, Artemisia Cafe, Portland, ME — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Peter Carvelli, Foglia, Bristol, RI — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Cara Chigazola Tobin, Honey Road, Burlington, VT — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Subat Dilmurat, Jahunger, Providence, RI — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Ian Driscoll, Bar Futo, Portland, ME — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Lee Frank, Otis Restaurant, Exeter, NH — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Valerie Goldman, The Honey Paw, Portland, ME — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Maria Meza, Dolores, Providence, RI — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • David Standridge, The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, CT — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Jake Stevens, Leeward, Portland, ME — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Micah Tavelli, Paradiso Hi-Fi, Burlington, VT — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Andy Teixeira, Newport Vineyards, Middletown, RI — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
  • Basil Yu, Yagi Noodles, Newport, RI — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist