From high-end to low-profile, the nominees for the first Garden State Culinary Arts Awards reflect New Jersey's delicious dining diversity.
The awards, the first juried food awards program in the state, are modeled after the James Beard Foundation awards and seek to honor outstanding talent in the New Jersey food industry.
Candidates for the Best Restaurant category include A Toute Heure in Cranford; Cucharamama in Hoboken; Red Store in Cape May Point; Cafe 2825 in Atlantic City; Cafe Matisse, Rutherford; Hamilton's Grill Room, Lambertville; Indeblue, Collingswood; Saddle River Inn, Saddle River; The Frog and the Peach, New Brunswick; and Restaurant Serenade, Chatham.
Candidates for Best New Restaurant include Common Lot, Millburn; Viaggio, Wayne; Kimchi Smoke, Westwood; Sanook Thai Cuisine, Haddonfield; Barrio Costera, Asbury Park; Graze, Little Silver; Kitchen Step, Jersey City; James on Main, Hackettstown; Cooper House Restaurant, Pennsauken; and Shamone Bites + Wine, Cape May.
Candidates for Outstanding Chef include Joey Baldino at Zeppoli, Collingswood; Drew Araneo, Drew's Bayshore Bistro, Keyport; Todd Fuller, The Farm + Fisherman Tavern, Cherry Hill; Juan Andres Placencia, Costanera, Montclair; Dan Richer, Razza, Jersey City; Ariane Duarte, Ariane Kitchen & Bar, Verona; Ryan DePersio, Fascino, Montclair and Battello, Jersey City; Scott Anderson, Elements and Mistral, Princeton; Shigeru Fukuyoshi, Sagami, Collingswood; and Thomas Ciszak, Chakra, Paramus.
Candidates in the Garden State Culinary Legend category include Rutt's Hut, Clifton; White Manna, Hackensack; Lucille Thompson, Chalfonte Hotel, Cape May; Knife and Fork Inn, Atlantic City; Fiore's, Hoboken; Nasto's Ice Cream, Newark; Summit Diner, Summit; Del Buono Bakery, Haddon Heights; Mustache Bill's Diner, Barnegat Light.
There are 13 categories in all; others include best casual restaurant; rising star chef; outstanding pastry chef/baker; outstanding food market; outstanding farmer; outstanding beer professional; outstanding wine professional; outstanding spirits professional; outstanding market and outstanding food artisan.
The nominees in each category will now be voted on by about 75 judges, a mix of New Jersey food writers, journalists, cookbook authors and industry professionals. The three finalists in each category will be announced in April, and the winners will be announced at Buy-Rite's annual Super Sampling event in Hamilton in May.
The full list of nominees in all 13 categories can be found at the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards Facebook page. Buy-Rite Liquors has no input in the process, and its stores, employees or affiliates are not eligible for awards.
The food awards, presented by Buy-Rite Liquors, are the vision of former Asbury Park Press restaurant reviewer Andrea Clurfeld. The seven-member awards committee includes chairman Peter Genovese, food/features writer, NJ Advance Media and nj.com; Elisa Ung, writer/editor and former restaurant reviewer for The Record and northjersey.com; Anthony Ewing, founder of ethnicnj.com; John Howard-Fusco, food writer and founder of Eating in South Jersey; Marie Jackson, a James-Beard recognized pastry chef; Shannon Mullen, staff writer for The Asbury Park Press; Tammy Paolino, features writer, The Courier Post/USA Today Network; and Jamila Robinson, regional features content strategist for Gannett New Jersey. The awards administrator is Andrea Clurfeld.
Peter Genovese may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @PeteGenovese or via The Munchmobile @NJ_Munchmobile. Find the Munchmobile on Facebook and Instagram.
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