These Boston restaurants and chefs are the 2020 James Beard Award nominees. Here’s how you can enjoy
Proof that there’s good news peeking out from this chaotic time, the James Beard Foundation recently announced its nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards, and a slew of talented local chefs and restaurants were among those honored. In past years, these semifinalist and nominee lists may have prompted fans to immediately make a reservation for one of the nominated establishments. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic altering our everyday lives, that’s just not an option.
Yet despite the current dine-in ban, most of the nominated chefs and restaurants are still cooking for the public, offering takeout and delivery options (and, in many cases, groceries). Before the winners of the 2020 James Beard Awards are announced on September 25, here’s how you can enjoy and support Boston’s nominees.
Best New Restaurant: Fox & the Knife
Pre-coronavirus, it almost felt like a miracle to score a seat at Karen Akunowicz’s much-lauded restaurant, Fox & the Knife. Now the Southie spot offers takeout and delivery through Fox Pasta and Fox at Home. The former is available Wednesdays through Sundays starting at noon, and includes freshly made pasta, homemade sauces, house ricotta, and a few other snacks and pantry staples. The latter is available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays, and offers Fox & the Knife classics like tallegio, tagliatelle bolognese, and pepe e cacio (Akunowicz’s spin on cacio e pepe). Missing Fox & the Knife’s aperol spritzes? They have a rosé spritz kit, too — you just need to provide the alcohol. (28 West Broadway, Boston; 617-766-8630)
Best Chef Northeast: Cassie Piuma
Experience Cassie Piuma’s inventive food at her Eastern Mediterranean destination, Sarma, in Somerville, which offers takeout Wednesdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Menus are regularly updated on Sarma’s social media, but you’ll likely find dishes like sweet potato challah, grilled eggplant shish, Turkish lamb meatballs, grilled salmon salad, and tahini chocolate chip cookies. Cocktail kits were recently added to the takeout menu, along with wines and a six-pack of Miller High Life. Orders must be placed by calling the restaurant, starting at noon. (249 Pearl St., Somerville; 617-764-4464)
Best Chef Northeast: Tiffani Faison
While Faison’s Big Heart Hospitality restaurants — Fool’s Errand, Orfano, Sweet Cheeks Q, and Tiger Mama — are not currently offering takeout or delivery, you can purchase gift cards on their individual websites or donate to the Big Heart Hospitality Fund here.
Outstanding Baker: Maura Kilpatrick
At Sofra Bakery & Cafe, Kilpatrick’s charming Cambridge eatery, diners can pick up everything from meze — small snacks like tahini hummus and za’atar bread — to shakshuka kits and savory meat pies. But don’t skip out on the baked goods that Kilpatrick is known for: sesame cashew, chocolate hazelnut baklava, tapioca pudding, and chocolate tahini tarts. Orders can be placed online or by calling the cafe. (1 Belmont St., Cambridge; 617-661-3161)
Outstanding Chef: Ana Sortun
Sortun’s Middle Eastern restaurant, Oleana, has been closed since the shutdown began. But diners can still support its two sister restaurants, Sofra Bakery & Cafe and Sarma (see above), or purchase gift cards to Oleana until the Cambridge treasure reopens.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer
Support the powerhouse duo that is Bissonnette and Oringer by ordering from two of their JK Food Group restaurants: Coppa and Toro. At Coppa in the South End, takeout and delivery is available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, when you can call or place an online order for cheese plates and grinders, rigatoni and smoked prosciutto pizza, tiramisu and bottles of sparkling wine. At Toro, takeout and delivery orders can be placed from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays; stock up on Spanish tapas like pulpo a la plancha, patatas bravas, and salt cod croquettes. The South End hangout is also offering sister restaurant Little Donkey’s fried chicken sandwich, plus cocktail kits, tinned fish, and pantry items. (Coppa: 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston; 617-391-0902; Toro: 1704 Washington St., Boston; 617-536-4300)
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Irene Li
Mei Mei, Li’s Chinese-American restaurant in the Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood, has tackled the coronavirus head on, transforming itself into a grocery store, packing meals for frontline health care workers as part of the Off Their Plate initiative, and even selling herb starters. It’s just the latest example of ingenuity that garnered Li a Rising Star nomination. To purchase from Mei Mei, takeout orders (available for pickup Wednesdays through Sundays) can be placed via phone or online for dumplings, tubs of coconut curry, meal kits, and pantry items. (506 Park Dr., Boston; 857-250-4959)
Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 Seats and Over): Hacin + Associates for Shore Leave
It’s no wonder the Boston design firm received a nod for its work on Shore Leave: The subterranean oasis offers a transportive experience, complete with tropical decor and a mid-century modern aesthetic. While Shore Leave is currently closed and not offering takeout or delivery, fans can purchase gift cards or merchandise on the bar’s website.
The 2020 James Beard Foundation Book Awards also revealed local nominees in a variety of categories, including “Milk Street: The New Rules” from Milk Street’s Christopher Kimball, “Vegetables Illustrated: An Inspiring Guide with 700+ Kitchen-Tested Recipes” from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen, and, in the Baking & Desserts category, “Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes,” by Joanne Chang. This is the fifth cookbook for Flour founder Chang, who recently launched takeout and delivery at a handful of her bakery’s locations. Open daily starting at 8 a.m., Flour is offering batched coffee drinks, dinner kits, sticky buns, cakes, and more at its Harvard Square, South End, and Seaport outposts; order for pickup through the Flour app or for delivery via Caviar.