3 James Beard Award 2018 Semifinalists in Rhode Island

The Ocean State is well-represented in this year's long list.

Ben Sukle at Oberlin. Photo by Angel Tucker.

Congratulations to three Rhode Island chefs who earned semifinalist recognition today in the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards. The first of the nominees is Johanne Killeen of Al Forno in Providence for Outstanding Chef. Al Forno’s late George Germon and Johanne Killeen earned the only James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast in Rhode Island in 1993.

A photo of Johanne Killeen from Joe Yonan’s America the Great Cookbook.

Both Benjamin Sukle and Champe Speidel are back after being nominated for the Best Chef Northeast Award in previous years. Speidel returns this year for his seventh nomination in the category, the first after moving Persimmon from Bristol to Providence.

Speidel (sixth from left) and cooks at Persimmon. Photo by Angel Tucker.

And this year, Sukle is nominated for the restaurant Oberlin. Last year, he was a finalist in the Best Chef: Northeast category for his first restaurant, Birch, and he was also nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2012 when he helmed the kitchen at The Dorrance, and for Best Chef Northeast in 2014.

Last year, Sukle attended the James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera in Chicago as a Finalist. The visit inspired him to get a tattoo on his arm with the phonetic pronunciation of his last name [Sue-kool], after it was announced as “Suckle.”

The final James Beard Award Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominees for Media and Restaurant Design Awards, will be announced in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 14. The nominee announcement will begin at 9:30 a.m. EST and will be streamed live (check back soon for details). Nominees will also be announced in real time via the @BeardFoundation Twitter feed.

The 2018 James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.


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