A Toute Heure in Cranford, Cucharamama in Hoboken, Common Lot in Millburn, De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, the Broad Street Diner in Keyport and The Bent Spoon in Princeton headline the finalists for the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards.
Three finalists in each of 13 categories were announced by the GSCAA awards committee, administering the state’s first juried food awards program. The awards, modeled after the James Beard Foundation awards, seek to honor outstanding talent in the New Jersey food industry (Full disclosure: I am chairman of the GSCAA awards committee and was part of the deliberations to determine the initial nominees; like other judges, I had one vote in the finalist selection stage).
Nominees were announced in February, and about 75 judges – a mix of journalists, food writers, cookbook authors and industry professionals – voted, with the top three vote-getters in each category becoming finalists.
The judges now vote again, with the winners to be announced at a ceremony Sunday, May 7 at HerSpace in Eatontown.
Best Restaurant: A Toute Heure, Cranford; Cucharamama, Hoboken; The Frog and the Peach, New Brunswick.
Best New Restaurant: Barrio Costero, Asbury Park; Common Lot, Millburn; Graze, Little Silver.
Outstanding Chef: Scott Anderson, Elements and Mistral, Princeton; Drew Araneo, Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport; Ryan DePersio, Fascino, Montclair; Battello, The Kitchen Step, Jersey City.
Rising Star Chef: Christopher Atamian, Porcini, Highlands; A.J. Capella, The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse; Jacqueline Platzer, P.J.W. Restaurant Group, Haddonfield.
Best Casual Restaurant: Broad Street Diner, Keyport; De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville; The Pop Shop, Collingswood.
Outstanding Farmer: Matthew Bruckler III, JAH’s Creation Organic, Egg Harbor Township; the McCormack family, McCormack Farms, Middletown; Peter, John and Rebecca Melick, Melick’s Town Farm, Oldwick.
Outstanding pastry chef/baker: Biemiller family, McMillan’s Bakery, Westmont; Fernandez family, Argentina Bakery, Union City; Debbie Mumford, Mumford’s Culinary Center, Tinton Falls.
Outstanding wine professional: Nicholas Harary, Restaurant Nicholas, Middletown; Nick Pizzonia, Court Liquors, Long Branch; Chuck Russo, Carlo Russo Wine and Spirits World, Ho-Ho-Kus.
Outstanding beer professional: Augie Carton, Carton Brewing Co., Atlantic Highlands; Michael Kane, Kane Brewing Co., Ocean Township; Gene Muller, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale.
Outstanding spirits professional: Brant Braue, Jersey Artisan Distilling, Fairfield; Russel Lewis, Michael Johannesen, Watermark, Asbury Park; Bryan Mack, Verve, Somerville. Mack passed away earlier this year; the awards committee kept his name on the ballot to honor his memory.
Outstanding food market: The Cheese Cave, Red Bank; Delicious Orchards, Colts Neck; Market Basket, Franklin Lakes.
Outstanding food artisan: Gabrielle Carbone and Matthew Errico, The Bent Spoon, Princeton; Jonathan and Nina White, Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, Alexandria; Eran Wajswol, Valley Shepherd Creamery, Long Valley.
Garden State Culinary Legend: D’Artagnan, Union; Knife & Fork Inn, Atlantic City; Chris Mumford, Mumford’s Culinary Center, Tinton Falls.
The food awards are the vision of former Asbury Park restaurant reviewer Andrea Clurfeld. The executive committee includes chairman Peter Genovese, food writer, The Star-Ledger and nj.com; Shannon Mullen, staff writer for The Asbury Park Press; Elisa Ung, writer/editor and former restaurant reviewer for The Bergen Record and northjersey.com; Tammy Paolino, features strategist, The Courier-Post and Daily Journal; John Howard-Fusco, food writer and founder of Eating in South Jersey; Anthony Ewing, founder of ethnicnj.com; and Marie Jackson, a James Beard-recognized pastry chef.
More information on the awards can be found on the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards Facebook page.