Since 1985, the prestigious James Beard Foundation selects culinary professionals who made their mark as chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and writers. This year, the foundation nominated eight alumni of New England Culinary Institute as semi-finalists for several categories including Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurateur.
- John Sundstrom (’89) Lark, Seattle, WA – Outstanding Chef
- Ford Fry (’93) JCT Kitchen & Bar, Atlanta, GA – Outstanding Restaurateur
- Barry Maiden (’00) Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA – Best Chef: Northeast
- Matt McClure (’02) 21C Hotel, Bentonville, AK – Best Chef South
- Rob McDaniel (’04) SpringHouse, Alexander City, AL – Best Chef South
- Sean Wilson (’07) Proof, Des Moines, IA – Best Chef Midwest
- Josh Keeler (’07) Two Boroughs Larder, Charleston, SC– Best Chef: Southeast
- Matt Jennings (’09) Farmstead, Providence, RI– Best Chef Northeast
They are located from coast to coast including in the heartland of Des Moines, Iowa, home of Sean Wilson (’07) where he is executive chef and partner at Proof. Though this is his second nomination in as many years, the shine of the nomination remains. “All I’ve wanted was to be recognized for James Beard Award. And now it’s happened twice!”
On the west coast, John Sundstrum (’89) of Chef/Owner of Lark in Seattle and James Beard award winner for Best Chef: Northwest in 2007, received another nomination for his culinary skills. He also became a finalist this week for the International Association of Culinary Professionals award for his cookbook “Cooking Against the Grain.”
Well below the Mason-Dixon Line, Matt McClure (’02) of 21C Hotel in Bentonville, AR and Rob McDaniel (’04) of SpringHouse in Alexander City, AL brought culinary excellence as both were recognized for Best Chef: South. Closer to the Atlantic in Charleston, SC, Josh Keeler (’07) received the honor for his amazingly approachable fare at Two Boroughs Larder. As a restaurateur in Atlanta, Ford Fry (’93) made his name as a chef from coast to coast before settling down and is nominated for the Outstanding Restaurateur award.
Back up to the north and closer to the NECI homeland. Matt Jennings (’09), a two-time James Beard finalist (2011 & 2012), gets a third look from the discerning folks at the James Beard Foundation for his work at Farmstead in Providence, RI. He will be in good company with Barry Maiden (’00) of Hungry Mother in Cambridge, MA.
The James Beard Foundation Beard Foundation offers a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. These programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications. Finalists for each award will be announced Monday, March 18.