Maplewood Chef Nominated for Beard Award

Friday, Mar 11, 2011 12:01pm

Dan Richer, chef/owner of Arturo's

Recently, Dan Richer of Arturo’s Osteria and Pizzeria made Maplewood culinary history when he became the town’s first James Beard Award-nominated chef.  Richer is a semifinalist in the category of Rising Star Chef of the year, which singles out talented young chefs who are likely to significantly impact the food industry.

“This is what every chef dreams about,” said Richer.  “For a super-casual, neighborhood restaurant like Arturo’s to be listed among the top restaurants and chefs in the country means so much to me.”  Check out our other articles on Arturo’s here and here.

The esteemed Beard Awards are known as “the Oscars of the food world.”  The semifinalists will be narrowed down to a list of five finalists, to be announced on March 21.  The winner will be named at a gala awards dinner, held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, on May 9.  For more information, visit the James Beard Foundation.

Other nominees include Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City and Anthony Martin of Chicago’s Tru.

“To me, Dan’s nomination is akin to the low-budget movie being nominated for Best Picture of the Year,” said Hank Zona, owner of local Swirl Wine Events and host of “The Grapes Unwrapped.”  “There aren’t many who care about the food they serve as Arturo’s does – especially at their price points.  Plus, he runs a small storefront operation as opposed to being a part of a highly financed restaurant group.”

Richer and his business partner Fred Shandler believe that great food should be accessible and affordable to everyone. They strive to use locally sourced ingredients from sustainable farms.  “We take something seemingly simple, like pizza or a salad, and explore the depths of the ingredients and techniques to build the best product possible,” the chef said.

Richer feels that he shares this recognition with all of the small businesses in Maplewood and the greater Baristaville area.   “When one of us is successful, we all are.  The more guests we serve, the more bottles of wine are sold at the wine stores in town; the more salads we sell, the more heads of lettuce our urban farm in Orange gets to produce.”

You can sample Arturo’s delicious brick-oven pizza and other dishes any time for lunch or dinner.  As for the popular reservations-only Saturday night tasting dinners – they are currently sold out through May.  But if you act fast, you might be able to enjoy a slightly abridged version at Maplewood’s Restaurant Week starting March 21; for more info call the restaurant at (973) 378-5800.

Whether or not he makes it to the finals, Richer is honored to be nominated.  “I can’t believe it, we just make pizza!” he said.

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