On February 17, the James Beard Foundation announced their semifinalists for 2016 Best Restaurant and Chefs across 21 categories. We’d like to congratulate Chef Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North, in Armonk, NY on being nominated for Best Chef: Northeast! Awarded in 2014 as one of Serendipity‘s Most Innovative Chefs, Gabrynowicz has continued supporting the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival as an Ambassador Chef. Last year he shared with us some of the things that have inspired him along the way.

Person who inspired me to cook: My grandfather was a waiter in New York City for 48 years. He was an incredible cook. He showed me how food equals love.
Greatest career highlight: I’m really humbled to say that I have been blessed with recognition and positive reaction to my food and restaurant. That said, standing with some of the best chefs in the country in front of Congress to try and make a change in our food system by representing Share Our Strength was the highlight of my career.
Advice to new chefs: Slow down, you’ll know when you can call yourself a chef. Be patient. Enjoy being a cook. Learn. Listen.
If I weren’t a chef I would be: A Major League Baseball umpire.
Go-to recipe when cooking for family and friends: Rigatoni with sausage and broccoli rabe.
Favorite dish at my restaurant: We roast a pig whole that I pick up from Meiller Slaughterhouse in Pine Plains, NY, and create a sort of “grown up” pulled pork that is a lot of fun and speaks to our approach to food. Honoring the entire animal isn’t a trend, it’s a necessary approach.

Go check out his popular restaurant: restaurantnorth.com

Finalists will be announced March 15 at a press conference in San Francisco and live on their twitter feed @beardfoundation. Their 2016 awards gala takes place on May 2 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Photograph by Kyle Norton