JWU Alumni Nominated for 2019 Beard Foundation Awards

fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market

This week, the James Beard Foundation released its much-anticipated list of 2019 James Beard Award semifinalists (chef categories) — and JWU alumni are well-represented.


Every year, the list celebrates the best and brightest restaurants, chefs, front-of-house teams and food media the American culinary scene has to offer.

Some highlights from the pool of nominees:

Manresa’s David Kinch '81, '14 Hon. was nominated in the Outstanding Chef category. In addition to running Manresa in Los Gatos, Kinch and his partner-in-patisserie Avery Ruzicka have recently expanded their Manresa Bread operation (Avery’s team was also nominated); Kinch also just announced plans for Mentone, a 100-seat French-Italian hybrid to debut in nearby Aptos Village.

It’s been an extremely busy year for Brad Kilgore '06 — he just opened his Japanese-inspired cocktail lounge Kaido in Miami’s Design District. Once again, he received a nod for his first restaurant, Alter.

Top Chef alumna Lindsay Autry ’04 received her second “Best Chef South” nomination for The Regional Kitchen & Public House, her chef-driven but approachable take on Southern comfort food.

“Best Chef Northeast” category highlighted a trio of alums, including a first-time nomination for James Mark '08 of north and Big King.


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The team @altermiami is being recognized by the @beardfoundation They deserve this and much more! Keep on pushing!!

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The final Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominations for Media and Restaurant Design Awards, will be announced on Wednesday, March 27.

The 2019 Awards Gala will be held at Chicago’s Lyric Opera on Monday, May 6.

2019 Semifinalist Nominees

Outstanding Chef
David Kinch '81, '14 Hon, Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif. FINALIST

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Kelly Fields '02, Willa Jean, New Orleans, La. WINNER

Outstanding Restaurant
FIG, Charleston (Adam Nemirow '00 MBA, owner-manager) FINALIST
Norman’s, Orlando Fla. (Norman Van Aken ’94 Hon., owner)
Quince, San Francisco (Neil Stetz ’08, chef de cuisine) FINALIST

Outstanding Bar Program
The Baldwin Bar, Woburn, Mass. (Ran Duan '09, owner)

Outstanding Service
The French Room, Dallas, Texas (Anthony Dispensa '98, chef)
Victoria & Albert’s, Orlando, Fla. (Aimee Rivera '93, chef de cuisine)

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Jordan Salcito ’06, Ramona, NYC

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Brian Jupiter '03, Frontier, Chicago

Best Chef: Northeast
James Mark '08, North, Providence FINALIST
Cassie Piuma '02, Sarma, Somerville, Mass. FINALIST
Benjamin Sukle '08, Oberlin, Providence, RI FINALIST

Best Chef: South
Lindsay Autry '04, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Vishwesh Bhatt '99, Snackbar, Oxford, Miss. WINNER
Kristen Essig '98, Coquette, New Orleans, La. FINALIST
Brad Kilgore '06, Alter, Miami, Fla.

Best Chef: Southeast
Kevin Johnson '96, The Grocery, Charleston, SC
Joe Kindred '02, Kindred, Davidson, NC
Andrew Ticer '04 and Michael Hudman ‘04, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis, Tenn. FINALISTS