Awards Watch: Matt Jennings, where were you when…?

Matt Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence was headed back from a sourcing trip to Vermont with his staff when they got the news that he was nominated for Best Chef: Northeast: “So there we were, in northern New Hampshire, in a big rented van that smelled like wet farm animal, with glass bottles of maple syrup clanking around in the back and the crew singing along to “Bennie and the Jets,” when all of a sudden, we came within cell phone range and all of our phones started bleeping and blinging. Text messages arrived from other staff, friends, and family, and we logged onto Twitter to discover it was true—we had made the final cut! We were temped to pull over to the nearest bar for a quick shot, but we were still about a three-hour drive from home!”

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Awards Watch: Angela Pinkerton, where were you when…?

“I was actually in the midst of a busy lunch service when our GM/executive chef’s assistant Amy Livingston had someone on the staff come tell me that she needed to see me right away. I came into the office, which was filled with some of the sous-chefs and dining room managers and they began clapping. She told me I was nominated! I guarantee my face was red from blushing! Later that night I did get a chance to celebrate with one of my very close friends, a bottle of Champagne, and dance floor! –Angela Pinkerton of Eleven Madison Park, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef

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Awards Watch: Craig Deihl, where were you when…?

“I got the good word while I was elbow deep in ice receiving a shipment from a local fishmonger. Ice went flying everywhere when I threw my hands in air. I think I scared my new stage a bit.” –Craig Deihl of Cypress in Charleston, S.C., on what he was doing when he found out he was nominated for Best Chef: Southeast.

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Awards Watch: Paul Virant, where were you when…?

"I was taking the Metra train to the city and one of my new partners, Kevin Boehm of Boka Group, sent me a text message. I couldn't celebrate then because the day had just begun, but I did open a bottle of Sea Smoke with my wife, Jennifer, that night!" –Paul Virant of Vie, nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes, on where he was when he found out he was nominated.

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Interview with Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi of Torrisi Italian Specialties

Torrisi Italian Specialties


After attracting a passionate fan base for its deliciously reconsidered Italian cuisine, Torrisi Italian Specialties is now in the running for tonight’s Best New Restaurant Award. Read on to see what owners Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi had to say about their favorite cookbooks and Chinatown eats.

JBF: Where were you when you heard you were nominated for a James Beard Award?

MC + RT: At work.

JBF: You guys are known for pushing the boundaries of what Italian cuisine can be, but the pastries you serve are pretty traditional. Do you ever think about changing it up?

MC + RT: Up until recently the pastries were made by us, but now we’... Read more >

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Interview with Benu's Corey Lee

Corey Lee

When Corey Lee opened Benu in San Francisco last summer, critics wondered if the French Laundry alum’s first independent fine-dining foray would survive in a time when diners were embracing more casual concepts. But the popular and breathlessly praised venture has demonstrated that America’s appetite for haute cuisine is as strong as ever. To mark Benu’s nomination for a JBF Best New Restaurant Award, we interviewed chef Lee last week. Check it out below.

JBF: What’s the story behind the name Benu?

CL: The benu is the phoenix bird, which stands for renewal and longevity. It’s what we’ve done with our careers through this opening, and what we hope to accomplish with the restaurant.

JBF: What lessons from the French Laundry did you take with you to the new restaurant?

CL: Many

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Interview with Rising Star Nominee Sue Zemanick

Sue Zemanick Though she's already packed her knives and left the latest season of Top Chef Masters, we think Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's is doing just fine. After all, the New Orleans star has nabbed a nomination for our Rising Star Chef of the Year Award three years in a row. Read on to discover what she told us about her favorite eats in the Crescent City and more. JBF: Gautreau's is the second restaurant you’ve worked at in New Orleans. What is it about working in that city that appeals to you? SZ: I love the people and culture. Everyone in NOLA loves great food, music, and cocktails, and that’s basically all that we do—eat amazing food, listen to live music, and enjoy delicious drinks. JBF: Have you felt any impact from the oil spill at your restaurant? SZ: Yes. People were afraid to come to New

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Interview with Rising Star Nominee Gabriel Rucker

Anna Mowry interviews James Beard Award–nominated Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon and Little Bird in Portland, Oregon

Nominated for the Rising Star of the Year Award for the fourth year in a row, Gabriel Rucker continues to be one of the gutsiest chefs in Portland, Oregon's thriving restaurant scene. Read on to see what he told us about his favorite local eateries and some memorable calamari.

JBF: You opened Little Bird a few months ago. What made you want to open a restaurant that serves more traditional bistro fare?

GR: It’s something that Portland needed, and we wanted to do another restaurant but something different from Le Pigeon. We also wanted to reach a broader crowd and we thought a bistro would do that.

JBF: How’s it going so far?

GR: We made the space about twice as big, hoping that the menu would attract more people. We’re located downtown, across

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Q & A with Rising Star Nominee Christina Tosi

Anna Mowry interviews James Beard Award–nominated Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

Ever since Momofuku Milk Bar opened over two years ago, pastry chef Christina Tosi has delighted New Yorkers with her clever and nostalgic sweets. We talked to the 2011 Rising Star Chef of the Year Award nominee about her path to Momofuku, her favorite New York eats, and her earliest memory of getting a sugar high.

JBF: How did you come to work for David Chang?

CT: I had just finished as a pastry cook at wd~50. Dave needed some help writing a HACCP plan for sous-vide cooking, and since we had just successfully been approved for our plan at wd~50, Wylie sent me to help out his bud. 
Dave ended up hiring me as his et cetera gal, basically to fill in the holes of his growing crew. I recognized the opportunity to be a part of a one-of-a-kind team, and I love me a good challenge. I was not hired to be a pastry chef, to work pastry, or to make desserts in any capacity.

JBF: When

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Awards Watch: Final Nominees Announced

medallion After Sunday night's fantastic Beard in Oregon tasting event and rockin' afterparties at Clyde Common and the Ace Hotel, the James Beard Award nominees were finally unveiled yesterday at the Oregon Culinary Institute. In case you weren't parked in front of our busy Twitter page, you can get the full list of finalists at jbfawards.com. Next stop: Lincoln Center!

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