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Local Love at the James Beard Foundation

Local Love at the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Award is among the most prestigious awards in the culinary world. Though, traditionally they’ve been mostly focused on food and wine programs, the last few years, we’ve seen more and more accreditation towards the craft beer world.

Today, the James Beard Foundation named their semifinalists for this years awards and a Philly bar that just recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary is up for an award in the “Outstanding Bar Program” category. Kensington’s Martha was named one of twenty finalist for the prestigious honor that spans across the entire country. If you’ve never been to Martha, owner Jon Melinsky put’s together an incredibly well-curated list of draft beers, wines and cocktails (as well as Kombucha for those looking for a healthier, less-alcoholic option). The bar also boasts an extremely impressive selection of local spirits that is amongst the largest in the area.


Martha was the only Philadelphia bar nominated in the category, but a few other bars nominated are within day-trips distance. In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Dogfish Head’s latest restaurant, Chesapeake & Maine was nominated and in New York City, both Bar Goto and The Dead Rabbit were recognized.

Another local standout recognized this year is local distillers Herman C. Mihalich and John S. Cooper of Dad’s Hat. One of the early additions to the local distilling scene, Dad’s Hat has helped pave the way for the distillery boom we’ve seen over the last couple years. Being nominated in the “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” category is a much deserved honor. They’ve been making some fantastic rye whiskey, including variations finished in port and vermouth casks that are a must-try. For a full list of nominees in this category, see below.


Though that may the only local nominations the Philadelphia area received in the beer & spirits world, Philadelphia had a strong showing in the culinary world. Here are all the local nominees:

Best New Restaurant: Saté Kampar

Outstanding Baker: Tova du Plessis, Essen Bakery

Outstanding Chef: Michael Solomonov, Zahav

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Pat O’Malley, Hungry Pigeon

Outstanding Restaurant: Sagami, Collingswood, NJ

Outstanding Restaurateur: Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurants
Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group

Outstanding Service: Zahav

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Camille Cogswell, Zahav
Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic: Scott Anderson, Elements, Princeton, NJ
Joey Baldino: Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ
Nicholas Elmi, Laurel, Philadelphia
Dwain Kalup, Domaine Hudson, Wilmington, DE
Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
Cristina Martinez and Benjamin Miller, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia
Greg Vernick, Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia

The finalists for the awards will be announced on March 15th and the winners will then be announced on April 25th. In the meantime, you can view the entire list of semifinalist here.


Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall, High Wire Distilling Company, Charleston, SC

Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE

Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA

Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA

Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, VA

Miljenko Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn, NY

Charles Joly, Crafthouse Cocktails, Chicago

Manfred Krankl, Sine Qua Non, Oak View, CA

Drew Kulsveen, Willett Distillery, Bardstown, KY

Jim Law, Linden Vineyards, Linden, VA

Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines, Sebastopol, CA

Greg Lorenz, SakéOne, Forest Grove, OR

Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa, CA

Steve McCarthy, Clear Creek Distillery, Portland, OR

Herman C. Mihalich and John S. Cooper, Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey, Bristol, PA

Aldo Sohm, Zalto Glass, NYC

Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

Chris Weld, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Sheffield, MA

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA


*photos taken from Martha and Dad’s Hat Facebook pages

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