Mark Furstenberg, Erik Bruner-Yang Named 2015 James Beard Award Finalists

Only two Washington toques made the cut.

Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang is nominated for Rising Star of the Year.

It’s an exciting day in the hospitality industry, as the James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the 2015 Chef and Restaurant Awards via their Twitter feed this morning. The winners will be named at a Chicago ceremony on May 4, but even making it this far is a resume-worthy recognition for toques and restaurateurs.

In the running from Washington: Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground, who’s up for Rising Star of the Year, and Outstanding Baker nominee Mark Furstenberg (Bread Furst). In Baltimore, Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen and Cindy Wolf (Charleston) were named in the Best Chef Mid-Atlantic category, which is wholly made up of toques from Charm City and Philadelphia.

As is the case every year, the number of semifinalists is much larger than the final group. A list of 20 Washington and Baltimore semifinalists was originally presented in February, including multiple contenders in categories like Outstanding Chef and Rising Star of the Year. Like in 2014, the number of finalists this year came down to just four. Last year only Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam took home the big win (after three previous wins in the running). Needless to say, it isn’t easy procuring a JBF Award.

The nominees for the Journalism, Broadcast and New Media Awards were also announced. Congratulations to local finalists, among the many talented names: Washington Post columnists M. Carrie Allan (Wine, Spirits, and Beverages) and Tamar Haspel (Food-Related Column), and NPR’s “All Things Considered” for the Found Recipes series.

Here’s the full list of nominees.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.