2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards Comes to Providence

by David Dadekian
Chef Jake Rojas

Chef Jake Rojas, a restaurant industry trends magazine, presented it’s 2014 Rising Stars Awards for the Coastal New England region this week. The Awards are given out to honor up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals who represent who believes is the best in modern dining. The Coastal New England region covers Portland, Maine and Dover, New Hampshire to Cape Cod and Rhode Island.

Chef Derek Wagner

Chef Derek Wagner

The team visited more than 150 chefs and artisans across 25 cities and small towns to make their selections for 2014. Thirteen culinary and beverage professionals from ten Rhode Island businesses received Awards with special attention given to Chef Derek Wagner of Providence’s Nick’s on Broadway for Sustainability and Chef James Mark of Providence’s north for Community.

The Rising Stars Awards winners will be showcased at the Rising Stars Gala on Tuesday, April 15, at the Providence Biltmore, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a tasting gala from 7 – 9:30 p.m. All the winners are listed in the media release below and Eat Drink RI reached out to all the Rhode Island winners for their thoughts on being given the Rising Stars Award.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for your time and thoughts.

Chef Matthew Jennings

Chef Matthew Jennings

Chad Hoffer, partner with Tyler Burnley, at Thames Street Kitchen in Newport, “Being part of such a talented group of chefs, in addition to showcasing little Rhody and all it has to offer, is something we look forward to! Star Chefs is a great platform to have, and Tyler and I are both honored to be a part of it.”

Matthew Jennings of Farmstead Inc. in Providence, “Star Chefs has always been an outlet for inspiration for me—a group and a conference I’ve picked up tricks and tips from—and a community I’ve always felt a part of. It’s an honor to be a Rising Star. I’m very thankful and eager to keep pushing!”

James Mark of north in Providence, “We are really excited to receive this award, the folks at are very nice people and it is wonderful to see them recognize all the work our team puts in both in and out of the kitchen.”

Chef Benjamin Sukle

Chef Benjamin Sukle

Jake Rojas of Tallulah on Thames in Newport, “It’s an honor to be recognized with such a talented group of chefs”

Benjamin Sukle of birch in Providence, “That’s quite a list. Glad to be on it. It’s nice to have the hard work by everyone here rewarded. They earned it.”

Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway in Providence, “I’m very happy to be receiving a Rising Star Award for my cooking, especially in regards to my efforts with sustainability.  I’ve been working at trying to create food that’s beautiful, delicious, community building and meaningful for a longtime, and it’s hard work. Though the work itself and trying to make a positive impact is undoubtably the most important part, getting recognized for the work and efforts I’ve made is deeply rewarding and motivating. To be recognized from such an industry minded and peer respected source as only makes it that much more meaningful and resonant.”

Jay Carr

Jay Carr

Ian Cappelano, partner with Peter Kobulnicky and Mike Lingwall of Foremost Baking Company in Providence, “These guys are trying to make it happen and so are we. Cool.”

Jay Carr of The Eddy in Providence, “I’m honored and proud that my hard work and dedication to the craft of getting people drunk is finally paying off.”

Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s and Ellie’s Bakery in Providence, “I am truly honored to receive this award. I have been hoping would make their way to our incredible city for years! This is a great news source for chefs. I love using their photo gallery as inspiration and to see what is new in the industry, so to be included in that community is extremely rewarding.”

Chef Melissa Denmark

Chef Melissa Denmark

Eric Lepine of New Harvest Coffee Roasters in Pawtucket, “I am honored to be considered among great culinary professionals from around New England. It is both humbling and inspiring to help bridge the gap between specialty coffee and the greater culinary scene in RI.”

The full media release from with all the winners from Coastal New England and details on what they’ll be serving at the April 15th Rising Stars Gala at the Providence Biltmore, is below. Congratulations to all the winners.




Region’s Chefs to Shine Bright at Tasting Gala on April 15, 2014™, the award-winning restaurant industry trends magazine, announces its 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards, honoring up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals, who represent the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene. From Portland, Maine and Dover, New Hampshire to Cape Cod and Rhode Island, the team visited more than 150 chefs and artisans across 25 cities and small towns.

“The New England Coast is the place to go to be close to the land, sea, and real food people. Chefs and artisans are opening single-minded restaurants and concepts, and the community has their back,” said Antoinette Bruno, Editor-in-Chief of

The winners will be showcased at the Rising Stars Gala on Tuesday, April 15, at the Providence Biltmore Hotel, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30pm and followed by a tasting gala from 7pm to 9:30pm. The walk-around tasting gala will give attendees the opportunity to experience 20 of Coastal New England’s top chefs and restaurants with beverage pairings and cocktails by the winning sommelier and bartenders, in one location for one night only.

“With its vibrant, close-knit professional culinary community, Providence (and greater Rhode island) is a fitting host for this celebration of the region’s next generation of market leaders,” says Will Blunt.   

General Admission is $95 per person. VIP tickets are $125 and include a private VIP reception with Champagne and Petrossian Caviar, beginning at5:45pm. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to Rhode Island Community Food Bank, a nonprofit that provides food to people in need and promotes long-term hunger solutions. Tickets can be purchased at

More than 150 candidates in Coastal New England were considered through in-person tastings and interviews. The 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Award winners are:


Chefs Tyler Burnley and Chad Hoffer of Thames Street Kitchen (Newport, RI)
Featured Dish: Australian Beef Carpaccio, Sunflower Seeds and Shoots, Garlic Confit, and Pickled Mustard Seeds

Chef Chris Fischer of Beach Plum Inn & Food (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Featured Dish: Blue Fish Belly Crudo, Smoked Sea Salt, Lemon, and Arugula

Chef Mayumi Hattori of Straight Wharf (Nantucket, MA)
Featured Dish: Casoncelli, Spring Greens, Snap Peas, Prosciutto, Goats Milk Ricotta, and Grana Padano

Chef Evan Hennessey of Stages at One Washington (Dover, NH)  
Featured Dish: Glazed Berkshire Pork Leg, Wheat Berries, Sunchokes, Pickled Mushrooms, and Orange

Chef Matt Jennings of Farmstead Inc. (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: Ham and Pickles: Cured and Smoked Pig Leg, Pickled Vegetables, Conpoy, and Curry Vinaigrette

Chef Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen of Long Grain (Camden, ME) 
Featured Dish: Australian Beef Panang Curry, Roasted Red Peppers, Bamboo, and Coconut Cream

Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah on Thames (Newport, RI)
Featured Dish: Miso-Harissa-Maple Pork Belly, Slow Egg, and Togarashi-spiced Fried Brussels Sprout Leaves

Chef Dan Sauer of 7a Foods (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Featured Dish: Asparagus Melt with Fontina, Roasted Garlic Aïoli, Basil, Pickled Red Onions, Dried Blueberries, and Focaccia

Chef Patrick Soucy of Ceia Kitchen + Bar (Newburyport, MA)
Featured Dish: Braised Goat, Basil-infused Goat Yogurt, Wheat Berries, Violet Blossoms, Beet-Brunet Mousse, and Bee Pollen

Chef Ben Sukle of birch (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: Warm Butternut Squash, Melted Leeks, Squash Seeds, Marjoram, and Brown Butter-Shellfish Bouillon

Chefs Andrew Taylor and Michael Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s (Portland, ME) 
Featured Dish: Lobster Sashimi, Sea Beans, Daikon Radishes, Frozen Ramp Purée, Ginger-Scallion Sauce, Nori Vinaigrette, and Fried Garlic

Chef Justin Walker of Earth at Hidden Pond (Kennebunkport, ME)
Featured Dish: Fried Oysters, Wood-fired Padron Pepper Relish, Bacon, and Sage

Community Chef
Chef James Mark of north (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: Burmese-style Roasted Cabbage, Peanut Brittle, Apple, Fermented Chile-Maple Dressing, and Mint

Hotel Chef
James Hackney of Twenty-Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club (Cape Cod, MA)
Featured Dish: Poached Sole, Orleans Mussels, Black Quinoa, Watercress Broth, Black Truffles, and Herbs

Sustainability Chef
Chef Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: Fluke Crudo, Apples, Radishes, Pickled Cranberries, Kumquat, Grapefruit, and Herbs

Pastry Chefs
Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: White Japanese Yam Custard, Maple Pecans, Brown Butter Shortbread, Pomegranate Jam, Crème Fraîche Ice Cream, and Wood Sorrel

Ilma Lopez of Piccolo (Portland, ME)
Featured Dish: Chocolate Budino Crostata, Candied Hazelnuts, Maldon Sea Salt, and Vincotto

Ian Cappelano, Peter Kobulnicky, and Mike Lingwall of Foremost Baking Company (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish: Baguettes and Assorted Breads

Eli Cayer of Urban Farm Fermentory (Portland, ME)
Featured Drink: Ginger Kombucha

Bennett Coffey and Kyleen Keenan of Not Your Sugar Mamas (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Featured Dish: Be Local Raw Chocolate Bars

Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewery (Portland, ME)
Featured Beer: Daymark American Pale Ale

Will Pratt of Tandem Coffee Roasters (Portland, ME)

Eric Lepine of New Harvest Coffee Roasters (Pawtucket, RI)

Andrew Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club (Portland, ME)
Featured Drink: Fratelli Stinger: Laird’s Applejack, BrancaMenta, Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, and Lemon Peel

Jay Carr of Eddy (Providence, RI)
Featured Drink: Orange Julius Caesar: Shellback Caribbean Rum, Bols Yoghurt Liqueur, Lime Juice, Vanilla, Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate, and Orange Peel

Tanya McDonough of Straight Wharf and Ventuno (Nantucket, MA)
Beverage Pairings with Winners’ Dishes

Nancy Batista-Caswell of Caswell Restaurant Group (Newburyport, MA)

Host Chef
Kevin Hale of Providence Biltmore Hotel (Providence, RI)
Featured Dish:  Roasted Australian Lamb, Vadouvan Curry, Saffron-Basmati Rice, Aleppo Pepper Asparagus, and Cilantro-Mint Aïoli

A number of additional awards highlight special talents, including:

  • Mixology Award, presented by Hobart
  • Rising Stars Art of Presentation Award, presented by Steelite International
  • Mentor Award, presented by Vitamix

Supporters of 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards
Meat & Livestock Australia, Steelite International, Winebow Inc., Rhône Valley Wines – Costières de Nîmes, Hobart, Vitamix, Winston Industries, Brewery Ommegang, Valrhona, Fresh Origins, Chef Works and VerTerra. Local partners include Providence Biltmore Hotel, the Providence Journal, Providence Warwick CVB, Providence Journal, Bacaro Restaurant, The Dorrance, Johnson & Wales University, and The Rhode Island Community Food Bank

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