5 Vermont chefs, restaurants and liquor businesses among James Beard Award semi-finalists

The Haymaker Bun Company of Middlebury is among the first candidates for a new category, outstanding bakery. photo via facebook

Five Vermont catering businesses are among the semi-finalists in the prestigious James Beard Awards.

Mojo Hancy-Davis of Burlington restaurant May Day and Alganesh Michael of South Burlington food company A Taste of Abyssinia were nominated as the Northeast’s top chefs.

Hancy-Davis offers an eclectic menu, from yakisoba, Japanese grilled noodles, to hanger steak.

Michael, a former nurse originally from Eritrea, has been cooking ready meals at several restaurants serving Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine for the past six years. She serves parties, teaches cooking classes, and offers weekly takeaways at The Mill Market and Deli in South Burlington.

Amanda Wildermuth of Burlington restaurant Honey Road was nominated in the elite pastry chef or baker category. His creations include walnut baklava and mini chocolate sesame mousse.

Amanda Wildermuth of Burlington restaurant Honey Road was nominated in the elite pastry chef or baker category. courtesy photo

Haymaker Bun Company in Middlebury was nominated for outstanding bakery.

“It’s a great honor,” said owner Caroline Corrente. “I follow the James Beard Awards religiously. I am in complete shock.”

Corrente said he learned the news from a friend who texted him.

This is the first year the James Beard Awards have a separate category for bakeries.

Corrente said he started Haymaker in 2017 from the kitchen of his home. A trained pastry chef, Corrente was at home on maternity leave to determine her next professional step. She came up with the idea to make special brioche buns—sweets, savory, chocolates. Its specialty is cinnamon buns.

In 2018, she and her husband had the opportunity to move into an area in downtown Middlebury with a terrace overlooking Otter Creek. Breakfast and lunch are served in their cafe.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Corrente said. “The last few years have been really tough for everyone in my industry, between the pandemic and labor shortages and rising food costs. We work really hard and wake up very early.”

Burlington’s Foam Brewers has been nominated for its exclusive wine and other beverage program. Beers on tap range from Pavement India Pale Ale to Pagan Science American Wild Ale aged in peaches.

“This is quite a pleasant surprise,” said Bob Grim, Foam’s co-founder and chief brewer. Grim said he found out when he got an email from another Vermont brewer.

Grim says he sees the nomination as recognition for the work Foam has done to support Vermont agriculture, which has been part of the brewery’s values ​​since its inception.

“When we opened it, we incorporated that into who we are,” Grim said. “We wanted to work with people in our community.”

Last year, Nisachon “Rung” Morgan, owner of Thai restaurant Saap in Randolph, took home the Northeast’s best chef award.

Want to stay up to date with the latest job news? Sign up here to receive a weekly email about all of VTDigger’s reports on local companies and economic trends. And check out our new Business section here.