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‘Exceptional talent’: Local culinary finalists for the 2024 James Beard awards

BOSTON — A Dorchester restaurant has been nominated as “Best New Restaurant” and several New England chefs are vying for the title of “Best Chef” among finalists the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards.

The James Beard Awards, among the nation’s most prestigious honors in the culinary and food media industries, “recognize exceptional talent as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” the James Beard Foundation said in a statement.

An awards ceremony will be held in Chicago on June 10.

The 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees in the region include:

Comfort Kitchen in Dorchester is a Best New Restaurant finalist, for demonstrating “consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community.”

Chef Conor Dennehy of Talulla in Cambridge is a “Best Chef” finalist; other New England chefs nominated for that honor include Maria Meza of Dolores in Providence, Rhode Island; Jake Stevens of Leeward in Portland, Maine; and Cara Tobin of Honey Road in Burlington, Vermont.

Chris Viaud, who runs Greenleaf, Ansanm, and Pavilion in Milford and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire is a finalist for “Outstanding Restaurateur,” for demonstrating “creativity in entrepreneurship, integrity in restaurant operations” and “making efforts to create a sustainable work culture, while contributing positively to their broader community.”

In Portland, Maine, there are three finalists: Woodford Food & Beverage for “Outstanding Hospitality presented by American Airlines;” Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery for “Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker;” and ZU Bakery for “Outstanding Bakery.”

Barr Hill Cocktail Bar in Montpelier, Vermont is a finalist for “Outstanding Bar,” an award that is presented to a wine bar, beer bar, cocktail bar, coffee bar, or any other business “whose primary offering is beverage and that demonstrates consistent excellence in curating a selection or in the preparation of drinks, along with outstanding atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.”

A full list of nominees can be found here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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