Monday, March 30, 2009

And the Winner Is…New Jersey!

David Burke Photo courtesy of

By Pat Tanner

You may have read by now that the nominees for - and some winners in non-competitive categories of - this year’s James Beard Awards were announced last week. If so, I hope you took pride in the fact that two of New Jersey’s own have already been named winners and two more Jerseyans are among the nominees in very prestigious categories. Here’s the rundown:

David Burke of David Burke Fromagerie, etc.
The Beard Foundation inducts the crème de la crème of the food and beverage world into its Who’s Who, and this year Jersey boy David Burke is among the chosen, cited for his groundbreaking restaurants, innovative product development (including signature GourmetPops), cookbooks, and long list of culinary accolades.

Mustache Bill’s Diner, Barnegat Light
Each year the Awards committee names as “America’s Classics” five small, regional eateries that have been serving good, down-home fare for generations. Several years back Atlantic City’s favorite sub shop, White House, was one. This year, Bill Smith, the owner of Mustache Bill’s (who, by the way, has never sported a mustache), is being recognized for his 35-plus years of making good food from scratch (!) at his diner.

Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama (and Zafra), Hoboken
Let’s hope the third time’s a charm for this Hoboken restaurateur, who is nominated once again for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. Presilla also happens to be a scholar and world authority on chocolate. Her two restaurants have been very favorably reviewed in the pages of New Jersey Life (oh yes, and elsewhere).

Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, NYC
No, I am not under the delusion that New Jersey has annexed the East Village, which is home to the restaurant Prune. But owner/chef Gabrielle Hamilton, who is nominated for Best Chef in New York City, grew up in Lambertville and is the daughter of restaurateur Jim Hamilton of Hamilton’s Grill Room.

Winners of the 2009 James Beard Awards will be announced at a ceremony and gala in NYC, open to the public, on May 4th. For ticket information and the full roster of nominees visit

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