JWU Alums Honored as StarChef Rising Stars

Rising Star Chef Derek Wagner '99 demos his fluke crudo at JWU's Harborside CampusOn April 15, restaurant trend magazine StarChefs.com will be coming to Providence to present the 2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Awards.

JWU alumni honorees include birch’s Ben Sukle, Nicks on Broadway’s Derek Wagner, north’s James Mark and Gracie’s pastry chef Melissa Denmark.

Representing the Future of American Cuisine
“Top notch cooking and a vibrant, close-knit professional culinary community make Providence a fitting host for this celebration of the region’s next generation of market leaders,” Will Blunt, StarChefs’ managing editor, told the Providence Journal’s Gail Ciampa.

StarChefs established the Rising Star Awards to honor up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals as representatives of “the future of cooking.” All the winners are under 40 — and each one has developed a culinary philosophy, creativity and ambition beyond their years.

Celebrating New England Chefs, Restaurants and Creative Food Concepts
The StarChefs team visited more than 150 chefs and artisans across 25 cities and small towns to cull the final list, of which 5 are JWU alumni.

  • Rising Star Chef: Ben Sukle, birch
  • Sustainability Chef: Derek Wagner, Nicks on Broadway  
  • Community Chef: James Mark, north
  • Pastry Chef: Melissa Denmark, Gracie’s/Ellie’s Bakery
  • Artisans: Mike Lingwall, Foremost Baking Company (nominated with Foremost co-owners Peter Kobulnicky and Ian Cappelano)

Chefs Making a Difference in RI
Two alumni were singled out for special achievement awards: Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway for Sustainability, and James Mark of North for Community.

Derek Wagner's fluke crudo with pickled mustard seeds and cranberriesSustainability is built into Derek Wagner’s business plan — the bulk of Nicks on Broadway’s menu comes from farmers he knows personally. “Guests have a right to know where their food comes from,” he notes.

Giving back is a focus at north (yes, it’s lowercase): Mark, together with business partners John Chester and Tim Shulga, donates a portion of the proceeds from every single dish sold to Amos House or the RI Food Bank.

Rising Star Events
On April 14, JWU students will have the opportunity to listen to a handful of Rising Star chefs talk about their own career experiences, followed by the awards gala on April 15.

  • Rising Stars Roundtable
    Johnson & Wales University
    HAC Amphitheater, Harborside Campus
    Mon, Apr 14, 2-3:30pm
  • Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony
    The Biltmore Hotel
    Tue, Apr 15, 6:30-9:30pm
    More info