RI Chefs and Restaurants Stand Out on 2012 James Beard Awards Semifinalists List

by David Dadekian

James Beard Foundation AwardUPDATED (more comments below) The  James Beard Foundation 2012 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists were announced this morning and a number of Rhode Island chefs and restaurants are included on this year’s list. The semifinalists in our area are:

Best New Restaurant: The Dorrance

Outstanding Bar Program: Cook & Brown Public House

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Benjamin Sukle of The Dorrance

Best Chef: Northeast:

The Semifinalists will be narrowed down to a list of finalists on March 19 and then winners be announced at the Awards Gala in New York City on May 7 in what is essentially the Oscars® of the food world. For the complete list of semifinalists you can view the Foundation blog here. Eat Drink RI has reached out to all the semifinalists and will be publishing their comments here as the day progresses.

Benjamin Sukle, Executive Chef at The Dorrance (Rising Star Chef of the Year and Best New Restaurant): “It’s awesome. The team and I work our asses off every day. We aren’t doing it for the recognition, but to be mentioned by the Foundation is such an honor and privilege and only helps justify the 16-hour days! As for Best New Restaurant, this is the most gratifying as a team. No award is gotten single-handedly. My right-hand man, (Sous Chef) Ed Davis, certainly deserves to be mentioned in these awards. I can’t wait to see what happens. Congratulations to everyone else nominated.”

Scott Pinocci, General Manager at Cook & Brown Public House (Outstanding Bar Program): “It’s a great honor to be on this list. Obviously it’s a testament to the hard work of the bartenders that we have now, and all the bartenders that have worked with us in the past.  Congratulations to all the Rhode Island nominees. It’s all well-deserved and shows how far Rhode Island has come on the national scene. It’s very exciting for the entire RI hospitality community.”

Nemo Bolin, Chef/Co-Owner at Cook & Brown Public House (Outstanding Bar Program): “This is f___ing awesome news. Our bar crew kills it every day and it’s great to get the recognition. I would love to take all of the credit but it really goes to Scott [Pinocci] and our awesome bartenders.”

Champe Speidel, Chef/Co-Owner at Persimmon (Best Chef: Northeast): “I’m thrilled to be on the list and thrilled to be in the company we are in. It’s good for our location. It shows we’re on the right track and doing the right things. I’m very appreciative.”

Matt & Kate Jennings, Chefs/Owners at Farmstead, Inc. (Best Chef: Northeast): “We are so appreciative for being nominated for Best Chef Northeast category. While we can only set the tone, this nomination is for our staff, who work so hard everyday to make Farmstead & La Laiterie what it is. It is awesome to see Rhode Island represented on the Semifinalist list, in such great numbers. A huge pat on the back to all of the nominees from the Ocean State- it is time that Rhode Island got it’s due!”

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