Updated March 27 at 6:24am

R.I. chefs make strong showing in 2014 StarChefs regional awards

Rhode Island chefs snagged 10 of this year’s 27 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards, according to industry trends magazine StarChefs.com.

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R.I. chefs make strong showing in 2014 StarChefs regional awards


PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island chefs snagged 10 of this year’s 27 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards, according to industry trends magazine StarChefs.com.

StarChefs annually honors up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals who represent “the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene” in New England.

Award winners come from areas as diverse as Portland, Maine; Dover, N.H.; Cape Cod, and Rhode Island. The magazine’s editorial team visited more than 150 chefs and artisans across 25 cities and small towns in-person tastings and interviews.

In Rhode Island, the 2014 winners hail from Providence, Newport, and Pawtucket. Thirteen Rhode Island chefs took home awards, including Matt Jennings of Farmstead Inc., who on Tuesday was named a finalist in the “Best Chef” category of the 2014 James Beard Awards.

“The New England coast is the place to go to be close to the land, sea and real food people,” observed Antoinette Bruno, CEO and editor-in-chief of StarChefs. “Chefs and artisans are opening single-minded restaurants and concepts, and the community has their back.”

The winners will be showcased at the StarChefs Rising Stars Gala on April 15 at the Providence Biltmore Hotel, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a tasting gala from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

“With its vibrant, close-knit professional culinary community, Providence (and greater Rhode Island) is a fitting host for this celebration of the region’s next generation of market leaders,” said Will Blunt, the magazine’s managing editor.

A walk-around tasting gala will give the audience the opportunity to experience 20 dishes and beverages from New England’s top chefs and restaurants. General admission costs $95 per person. VIP tickets are $125 and include a private VIP reception with champagne and Petrossian caviar, beginning at 5:45 p.m.

Chef Kevin Hale of the Providence Biltmore Hotel will be the host for the event.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to Rhode Island Community Food Bank, a nonprofit that provides food to people in need and promotes long-term hunger solutions.

Tickets can be purchased at www.starchefs.com.

The 2014 StarChefs.com Coastal New England Rising Stars Award winners are:


  • Tyler Burnley and Chad Hoffer of Thames Street Kitchen (Newport)

  • Chris Fischer of Beach Plum Inn & Food (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.)

  • Mayumi Hattori of Straight Wharf (Nantucket, Mass.)

  • Evan Hennessey of Stages at One Washington (Dover, N.H.)

  • Matt Jennings of Farmstead Inc. (Providence)

  • Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen of Long Grain (Camden, Maine)

  • Jake Rojas of Tallulah on Thames (Newport)

  • Dan Sauer of 7a Foods (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.)

  • Patrick Soucy of Ceia Kitchen + Bar (Newburyport, Mass.)

  • Ben Sukle of Birch (Providence)

  • Andrew Taylor and Michael Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s (Portland, Maine)

  • Justin Walker of Earth at Hidden Pond (Kennebunkport, Maine)

Community Chef:

  • James Mark of North (Providence)

Hotel Chef:

  • James Hackney of Twenty-Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club (Cape Cod, Mass.)

Sustainability Chef:

  • Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway (Providence)

Pastry Chefs:

  • Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s (Providence)

  • Ilma Lopez of Piccolo (Portland, Maine)


  • Ian Cappelano, Peter Kobulnicky and Mike Lingwall of Foremost Baking Company (Providence)

  • Eli Cayer of Urban Farm Fermentory (Portland, Maine)


  • Bennett Coffey and Kyleen Keenan of Not Your Sugar Mamas (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.)


  • Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewery (Portland, Maine)


  • Will Pratt of Tandem Coffee Roasters (Portland, Maine)

  • Eric Lepine of New Harvest Coffee Roasters (Pawtucket)


  • Andrew Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club (Portland, Maine)

  • Jay Carr of Eddy (Providence)


  • Tanya McDonough of Straight Wharf and Ventuno (Nantucket, Mass.)


  • Nancy Batista-Caswell of Caswell Restaurant Group (Newburyport, Mass.)

A number of additional awards will also be presented to highlight special talents, including:

  • Mixology Award, presented by Hobart

  • Rising Stars Art of Presentation Award, presented by Steelite International

  • Mentor Award, presented by Vitamix


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