NJ Culinary Awards Finalists Announced

Before she joined New Jersey Monthly as its new Table Hopping editor in January, Andrea Clurfeld founded the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards (GSCAA) and has continued as its administrator.

This morning, the GSCAA released its list of finalists for its inaugural set of awards, in 13 categories. They represent the top three vote-getters from the list of 10 semi-finalists in each category.

The initial list of candidates was drawn up by the seven-member GSCAA executive committee and a statewide body of judges—each largely comprised of food journalists. After winnowing down the names in each category to 10 nominees, the committee and judges voted to determine the finalists. The results were tabulated by the independent accounting firm Sobel & Co., LLC, in Livingston. Neither Clurfeld nor New Jersey Monthly participated in the voting.

After a second round of tabulated voting, the winners will be announced at a ceremony on Sunday, May 7, at HerSpace in Eatontown. Amy Niles, president and CEO of WBGO public radio in Newark, will serve as master of ceremonies. A former Broadway performer, Niles is also a food enthusiast and supporter of local restaurants and farms. For more information, click here.

BEST RESTAURANT

A restaurant in operation in New Jersey for at least five years that displays overall excellence and consistency of quality in food, atmosphere and service and has set high standards in the industry.

* A Toute Heure, Cranford
* Cucharamama, Hoboken
* The Frog and the Peach, New Brunswick

BEST CHEF
A chef in a professional capacity in New Jersey for at least five consecutive years whose accomplishments have served to inspire, educate and set standards in both the state and the industry.

* Scott Anderson, Elements, Princeton, and Mistral, Princeton
* Andrew “Drew’’ Araneo, Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport
* Ryan DePersio, Fascino, Montclair; Battello, Jersey City; The Kitchen Step, Jersey City

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
A restaurant opened in the previous calendar year (2016) that displays excellence in food and service, already has established a distinctive voice and promises to set high standards for years to come.

* Barrio Costero, Asbury Park
* Common Lot, Millburn
* Graze, Little Silver

BEST CASUAL RESTAURANT
An informal, moderately priced, independently owned eatery with high-quality food that reflects the character of New Jersey and/or its surrounding community. Must have been in operation for at least five years.

* Broad Street Diner, Keyport
* DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville
* The Pop Shop, Collingswood

OUTSTANDING FARMER
A farmer whose primary income is derived from agricultural pursuits and has demonstrated significant talent and skill in the profession, as well as setting consistent standards of excellence. Must have been working as a farmer for at least five years.

* Matthew Bruckler III, JAH’s Creation Organic, Egg Harbor Township
* McCormack Family, McCormack Farms, Middletown
* Peter, John and Rebecca Melick, Melick’s Town Farm, Oldwick, Tewksbury Township

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF/BAKER
A pastry chef or baker working in a professional capacity in New Jersey for at least three years in a restaurant, café, bakery or other public outlet who has displayed overall excellence in pastries, desserts and/or bread-making.

* Biemiller Family, McMillan’s Bakery, Westmont
* Fernandez Family, Argentina Bakery, Union City
* Debbie Mumford, Mumford’s Culinary Center, Tinton Falls

OUTSTANDING WINE PROFESSIONAL
A wine professional working in New Jersey who has proven skills and talent and has had a significant positive effect on the industry.

* Nicholas Harary, owner, Restaurant Nicholas, Middletown
* Nick Pizzonia, vice president, Court Liquors, West End, Long Branch
* Chuck Russo, owner, Carlo Russo Wine and Spirit World, Ho-Ho-Kus

OUTSTANDING BEER PROFESSIONAL
A beer professional working in New Jersey who has proven skills and talent and has had a significant positive effect on the industry.

* Augie Carton, co-founder, Carton Brewing Company, Atlantic Highlands
* Michael Kane, president/founder, Kane Brewing Company, Ocean Township
* Gene Muller, founder, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Somerdale

OUTSTANDING SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL
A spirits professional working in New Jersey who has proven skills and talent and has had a significant positive effect on the industry.

* Brant Braue, owner and master distiller, Jersey Artisan Distilling, Fairfield
* Russell Lewis, owner, Michael Johannsen, head bartender, Watermark, Asbury Park
* Bryan Mack, bartender, Verve, Somerville**

**Mack was placed on the ballot before his death in January. The committee decided to keep his name there to honor his work and memory.

RISING STAR CHEF
A chef age 30 or younger as of the previous calendar year whose accomplishments and talent already have served to inspire and impress and promise to set standards for years to come. Must have worked in a professional capacity as a chef for a minimum of three years, including two years in New Jersey.

* Christopher Atamian, chef/owner, Porcini, Highlands
* A.J. Capella, chef de cuisine, The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse, Readington Township
* Jacqueline Platzer, assistant culinary director, PJW Restaurant Group, Haddonfield

OUTSTANDING FOOD MARKET
An established, independently owned retail food market that demonstrates a high level of quality in goods offered, service to its customers and devotion to its community. Must have been in operation for at least five years.

* The Cheese Cave, Red Bank
* Delicious Orchards, Colts Neck
* Market Basket, Franklin Lakes

OUTSTANDING FOOD ARTISAN
A food artisan who has demonstrated significant talent and skill in their chosen genre and has set new or consistent standards of achievement and excellence. Must have been working in the genre for at least three years.

* Gabrielle Carbone and Matthew Errico, The Bent Spoon, Princeton
* Eran Wajswol, Valley Shepherd Creamery, Long Valley
* Jonathan and Nina White, Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, Alexandria Township

GARDEN STATE CULINARY LEGEND
A food professional, institution or restaurant with a rich, storied history of high standards, commitment, accomplishment and influence. The contributions of the person, place or institution to the culinary arts in New Jersey must have affected residents in positive ways for at least 10 years.

* D’Artagnan, Union
* Knife & Fork Inn, Atlantic City
* Chris Mumford, co-owner, Mumford’s Culinary Center, Tinton Falls

The executive committee: chairman Peter Genovese, food/features writer, NJ Advance Media and nj.com; Andrea Clurfeld; Anthony Ewing, founder of EthnicNJ.com; John Howard-Fusco, a food writer and founder of Eating in South Jersey; Marie Jackson, an Atlantic Highlands-based James Beard-recognized pastry chef; Shannon Mullen, staff writer for the Asbury Park Press; Tammy Paolino, regional features content strategist for the Courier Post/USA Today Network; and Elisa Ung, writer and editor and former restaurant reviewer and dining columnist for the Record and northjersey.com.

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