James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Greg Vernick

Greg Vernick was born into a family who knew a lot about genuine quality food. His mother ran the Haddonfield Diet Shop in New Jersey, and his grandfather ran their family Philadelphia’s butcher shop Friedman’s Market. A graduate of Boston University, he went straight into CIA’s Culinary Program and soon after, the French Culinary Institute’s Sous-Vide Intensive and Pastry Techniques program.

Vernick moved to New York City to work on the line for the opening of Jean-Georges Vongericten’s Perry Street, under Chef Gregory Brainin. Vernick rose through the ranks and served as sous chef at Jean Georges, Nougatine, and Spice Market and became their corporate chef trainer for restaurants in Qatar, Tokyo, Vancouver, Boston, and Park City, Utah. After five years in the Vongerichten empire, Vernick took his final post away from home as chef de cuisine of New York’s Tocqueville.

In 2012, Vernick returned to Philadelphia and he and his wife, Julie, opened the doors to their first restaurants, Vernick Food & Drink, and soon after he received a James Beard Nomination. He would then be nominated for the award, 2 more times in 2015 & 2016.

Nomination: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (Vernick Food & Drink)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Ashley Christensen

In college, Ashley Christensen began cooking by throwing dinner parties for her friends and family. She then recognized her passion for cooking and sharing food,  which lead her to take her first professional cooking job at the age of 21. After years of working in various top restaurants, she would become a restaurateur in 2007, opening Poole’s Dinner. Four years later, she opened three new restaurants, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck and Fox Liquor. In 2014, Ashley was awarded the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Southeast.” Then a year later she opened two new ventures, Death & Texas, a restaurant celebrating wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients and Bridge Club, a private event loft and cooking classroom. Ashley’s work has gained national attention from such publications as Bon Appétit, Gourmet, The New York Times, Southern Living and Garden & Gun. She has appeared on Food Network’s popular series Iron Chef America and MSNBC’s Your Business. She has also  completed ICC’s Sous-Vide Intensive program.

NominationOutstanding Chef (Poole’s Diner)  

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Tory Miller

Before Miller was a devotee to sustainability, he graduated the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center), looking for training and experience in professional kitchens. He worked in several of New York’s best restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park and Judson Grill, before arriving at L’Etoile to work as Odessa Piper’s chef de cuisine. In 2005, Miller purchased the restaurant with his sister and business partner, Traci Miller. Seven years later, he earned L’Etoile’s second James Beard Award for “Best Chef, Midwest.”

While Madison, Wisconsin may not be known as a culinary mecca,  Chef Tory Miller has created a small gustatory oasis with his four restaurants: L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo, and Estrellón. Miller specializes in dishes made from locally grown, sustainable, organic ingredients, executed in part through a rigorous “put-by” system, in which he preserves summer produce for use year round.

Nomination: Outstanding Restaurant (L’Etoile)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Alex Roberts

At the age of 15, Alex Roberts was working as a dish washer at Caspers, a restaurant in southern Minneapolis. When a cook didn’t show up to work one night, the Chef asked Roberts to work in the kitchen. From that day forward, the chef told the owner, “He’s with us now. Get a new dishwasher.” and thus began his cooking career!

Now the chef/owner of Restaurant Alma for the last 17 years, Chef Alex Roberts continuously elevates his cuisine and venue. Converting an adjacent coffeehouse into a casual, all-day cafe and adding a six-room hotel upstairs, the culinary entrepreneur certainly earns the title of ‘Outstanding Chef’ — regardless of who wins the award.

Nomination: Outstanding Chef (Restaurant Alma) 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: David Chang

David Chang has always possessed a passion for noodles. However it wasn’t until he discovered Alan Yau’s Wagamana while studying abroad in London that he contemplated cooking as a career. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in Religious Studies, he briefly held a financial job, before quickly realizing he did not belong behind a desk. So, he decided to pursue his real passion and enrolled in the International Culinary Center’s Classic Culinary Arts program. His time at the International Culinary Center led him into the kitchen of Jean-George Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen, and Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant. After his time at Craft, David traveled to Japan where he studied the art of soba making, refining this knowledge into creating his own dishes at Noodle Bar. In 2004, David Chang opened Noodle Bar, his first Momofuku restaurant in New York City. Today, there are four Momofuku restaurants in Manhattan, including Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Má Pêche, and a bakery, Milk Bar, with two locations.

Nomination: Outstanding Restaurant  (Momofuku Noodle Bar)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske

Fabian Von Hauske grew up in Mexico City, where he got his culinary start working in the kitchen of a café. He graduated from The French Culinary Institute’s Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs in 2009 and 2010, respectively. While attending FCI (now called International Culinary Center), Fabian worked at Michelin 3-star Jean-Georges, then left the country to work at world renowned dining establishments such as Noma, Faviken and Attica. There, he met Jeremiah Stone, who was the sous chef for school events and a 2007 Professional Culinary Arts graduate [from ICC]. Jeremiah moved to Europe following his program completion at the International Culinary Center, and has worked at Rino and Isa, among other places.

Then the pair traveled around Europe and started planning for what would eventually become Contra. The two took over a year to find the space for Contra, which opened in October 2013. The restaurant serves a set menu of contemporary New York cuisine with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.

Nomination: Best Chef: New York City

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Dan Barber

Dan Barber is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in The New York Times, along with many other publications. Chef Dan Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006), the Country’s Outstanding Chef (2009), and Writing and Literature for his book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food (2015). His two restaurants have received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S. for Blue Hill New York (2013) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns (2015). In 2009, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

Nomination: Outstanding Service (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Matt Rudofker

Matt’s first kitchen experience was at the age of 16, in Philadelphia at Verti. In 2005, when he turned 18, he moved to New York and worked unpaid again at Cru before leaving for Oceana to work under Cornelius Gallagher. He then worked at Cru, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Matt then spent time at Daniel, where he was part of the team that earned both four stars from the New York Times, and 3 Michelin Stars. He even did a stage in England’s fame Fat Duck. Then in 2010 Rudofker signed on at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.

Nomination: Rising Star Chef of the Year 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Joseph Baldino

Growing in South Philadelphia, Joseph Baldino has always been around great cooks and food. His mother and two aunts were credited as his earliest mentors. His life goal was to eventually own his own restaurant. Starting as a busboy at a small local trattoria, Baldino graduated from Temple University, and shortly after, enrolled in The French Culinary Institute. 

Following his culinary school graduation, Chef Baldino became the sous chef and eventually chef de cuisine for Vetri and Osteria. He traveled the world to work alongside esteemed chefs such as Georges Perrier, Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov, Alice Waters and Daniel Boulud. In 2011, he opened his restaurant Zeppoli, which was inspired by his stay at Anna Tasca Lanza’s farm in Sicily. Just months after opening, he received his first nomination from the James Beard Foundation, and has since become a semi-finalist three more times.

Nomination: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic 

James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Brittanny Anderson

Brittanny Anderson has worked in restaurants since she was 15, from the front of house to being behind the bar. It was there where she began to gain an interest in cooking. She worked for a chef as garde manger (cold food production), before leaving Richmond to go to the French Culinary Institute in New York.

After graduating at the top of her class, Brittanny worked in some prestigious kitchens in New York, most notably Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Northern Spy Food Company. After her New York takeover, she has return back to her hometown of Richmond, where is the Co-Owner & the Executive Chef of Metzger Bar + Butchery.

Nomination: Best Chef Mid Atlantic