James Beard Foundation Awards Finalist in Rhode Island

The 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards finalists were announced today via livestream in Chicago, Illinois, and a Rhode Island chef made it to the short list.

The 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards finalists were announced today via livestream in Chicago, Illinois, and Matthew Jennings of Farmstead in Providence earned a nomination for Best Chef: Northeast. This is his fourth acknowledgement, and his third time making it to the short list of nominees, also in 2011 and 2012. The winners will be announced on Mon. May 5 in New York City.

Olneyville New York System in Providence also received the 2014 James Beard Foundation: America’s Classics award for dishing up great Rhode Island classics like Olneyville New York System wieners, salt and vinegar French fries and coffee milk for almost seventy years.

Last month, two other Rhode Island chefs and restaurants also earned JBF semifinalist nods. Leading the group with two semifinalist mentions was Persimmon in Bristol, run by husband and wife team Champe and Lisa Speidel. The restaurant earned a semifinalist nomination for Outstanding Service for the second time and chef Champe Speidel was also nominated as a semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast for the fourth year in a row.

Chef Ben Sukle of birch in Providence was also acknowledged with a semifinalist nod for Best Chef: Northeast, a first for his restaurant that has not yet been open for a year. Sukle also worked as chef de cuisine at Farmstead in Providence, prior to serving as chef de cuisine at the Dorrance and opening his own restaurant with wife Heidi Sukle. Sukle was previously nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s 2012 Rising Star Chef of the Year award in conjunction with the Dorrance being nominated for Best New Restaurant in 2012. Congratulations to all chefs who have earned a spot on the 2014 list.

You can also experience the cooking of another JBF-nominated chef on March 30 in Providence. Best Chef Southwest nominated Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston, Texas, will collaborate with birch in Providence to present a five-course tasting menu. Reservations are available from 5–8:30 p.m. for $115 per person, including tax and gratuity; beverage pairings are available for an additional $65. A portion of the proceeds from this dinner will be donated to Rhode Island Community Food Bank.