It’s been an exciting week for Stony Brook. First, Stony Brook University Hospital was named a first-class food facility in America by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Now, Chef Guy Reuge — Stony Brook’s most decorated chef — has been named a chef semifinalist in the 2016 James Beard Awards. It is his fourth time making the list.
“It is always exciting,” says Reuge, speaking to me from Mirabelle in Stony Brook. “I am hoping this will be my lucky year.”
Reuge has been nominated for the Best Chef in the Northeast Region award. He shares the honor with 20 other chefs, though he is the sole semifinalist from Long Island. It is a fitting honor for the man we at Edible have called “France’s Gift to Long Island.”
The James Beard Awards are among the highest honors in the food world. They honor excellence in cuisine, culinary writing and culinary education.
Each October, the James Beard Foundation holds an online open call for entries. This open call — which this year garnered over 20,000 entries — is reviewed by the foundation’s restaurant and chef committee, which works to produce a list of semifinalists. An independent, volunteer-based panel of more than 600 judges from across the country — made up predominately of the nation’s leading food critics and culinary educators — then vote on this list, thus determining the finalists and, eventually, the winners.
“I am most excited because I have been involved with the James Beard Foundation for a long time,” says Reuge. “Together we’ve worked many years on the Chefs and Champagne event in the Hamptons.”
Reuge has been working for a long time, period. In 2014, he celebrated 30 years at Mirabelle. Prior, he worked for 10 years in some of New York’s then-most renowned kitchens: René Pujol, Maxwell’s Plum, Le Cygne and Tavern on the Green.
“I knew Jim Beard very well,” says Reuge. “In 1980, we worked at restaurants not far from each other. He would show up and we would talk about food and wine.”
“That should tell you something about my age,” he laughs.
Finalists for the James Beard Awards will announced on Tuesday, March 15. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Reuge will not struggle to find ways to pass the time between now and then. Four months ago, he opened a new restaurant, Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor.
“We are open four months and this is my fourth James Beard Award nomination,” says Reuge, pausing for a moment to savor the symmetry. “It is a very exciting time.”