2017 AFJ Awards Competition: The Finalists

Finalists below are listed in alphabetical order. More than three finalists in a category indicates one or more ties.  First-, second- and third-place winners will be announced on Sept. 13, 2017, at a special awards ceremony during AFJ’s annual conference in Philadelphia. See you there. 

NEarly 300 Submissions in 13 categories

In 2017, judges reviewed entries addressing topics like authentic tortillas, food businesses that inspire, a collapsing seafood economy and more. Here are the finalists. 

CORRECTION, Aug. 9, 2017 - We originally shared, in error, that Esther Mobley's piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, "Why Bay Area newcomer Dunkin' Donuts matters to East Coasters" was a finalist in the Best Food Essay category. In fact, Anna Roth's piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, "Burritos, remixed: When a San Francisco classic gets a new look" is a finalist in the Best Food Essay category. We apologize to the San Francisco Chronicle and Ms. Mobley for this mistake. 


Best Newspaper Food Coverage, below 155,000 circulation

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kelly Brant, Food Editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nancy Stohs, Food Editor

San Antonio Express-News, Edmund Tijerina, Food & Drink Editor

Best Newspaper Food Coverage, above 155,000 circulation

Boston Globe, Devra First, Food Editor

San Francisco Chronicle, Paolo Lucchesi, Food Editor

The Washington Post, Bonnie Benwick, Deputy Food Editor/Recipe Editor and Joe Yonan, Food and Dining Editor

Best Newspaper Food Feature, under 150,000 circulation

Kathleen Purvis, The Charlotte Observer,  “Why does sugar in cornbread divide races in the South?”

Kathleen Purvis, The Charlotte Observer, “Observer food editor’s take on Gwyneth Paltrow’s book: Pile of goop.”

Andrea Weigl, The News & Observer, “The true story of a chef’s chef”

Best Newspaper Food Feature, 150,001 to 225,000 circulation

Dominic Armato, The Arizona Republic, “Chawanmushi Magic”

Carlos Frías, The Miami Herald, “Night Owl Cookie Co. feeds Miami’s cookie monsters”

Carlos Frías, The Miami Herald, “How a firefighter’s dying wish helped start one of Miami’s best pie shops”

Best Newspaper Food Feature, above 225,000 circulation

Paolo Lucchesi, San Francisco Chronicle, “Chef Corey Lee’s SFMOMA restaurant breaks the rules”

Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle,“In praise of the real-deal tortilla”

Laura Reiley, Tampa Bay Times, “For St. Petersburg’s Dr. BBQ, the journey to fame was low and slow”

Best Newspaper Special Food Project

San Francisco Chronicle, “Seafood’s New Normal,” Tara Duggan

San Francisco Chronicle, “The Rice Issue,” Kimberly Chua, Lucio Villa

Tampa Bay Times, “Farm to Fable,” Laura Reiley

Best Non-Newspaper Food Feature

Liz Miller, Feast Magazine, “How One Family is Pulling Saltwater Taffy Back Into Local Food Culture”

Peter Robison and Vernon Silver, Bloomberg, “Is American Olive Oil About to Have Its Moment?”

Cara Strickland, JStor Daily, “Why Was Turkish Delight C.S. Lewis’s Guilty Pleasure?”

Best Food Column

Leah Eskin, Chicago Tribune

Tamar Haspel, The Washington Post

Jim Shahin, The Washington Post

Best Restaurant Criticism

Bill Addison, Eater

Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post

Ryan Sutton, Eater

Best Food Essay

Jamie Lauren Keiles, Eater, “The 24-Year-Old-Coca-Cola Virgin”

Mikki Kendall, Eater, “Hot Sauce in Her Bag”

Anna Roth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Burritos, remixed: When a San Francisco classic gets a new look"

Best Story on Food Policy or Food Issues

Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, “Restaurants finding workers among the disadvantaged”

Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, “How Factory Farms Play Chicken With Antibiotics”

Hanna Raskin, The Post and Courier, “Feeding the prison system: Some inmates buy way around ‘institutional cooking’”

Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Bringing Wisconsin fish to local tables”

Best Food Business Story

Roxanne Khamsi, The New York Times Magazine, “Is It Possible to Make a Less Allergenic Peanut?”

Maddie Oatman, Mother Jones, “A Fish Out of Water”

Kathleen Purvis, The Charlotte Observer, “Can a S.C. barbecue family rise above their father’s history of racism?”

Best Food/Travel Story

Bill Addison, Eater, “I want crab. Pure Maryland crab.”

Matt Rodbard, Saveur, “Looking for Jangs”

Best Writing on Beer, Wine or Spirits

M. Carrie Allan, The Washington Post, “The born-in-Detroit cocktail that has spawned countless variations”

Steve Hoffman, Growler magazine, “Minnesota Spoon: Wine pairing with Jill Mott”

Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, “Wine Country’s unsung hero: Chuy Ordaz”

Best Digital Food Presentation

Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Beer Near: A Guide to Wisconsin Breweries”

Gary He & Matt Buchanan, Eater, “Twilight of the Four Seasons”

Becky Krystal & Alex Baldinger, The Washington Post, “Here’s the amazingly simple path to incredible homemade bagels”

Best Writing on Food - Student Division

Emily Case, The University of Nebraska writing for Nebraska Mosaic, “Food as a Cultural Oasis”

Joe McCarty, The University of Nebraska writing for Nebraska Mosaic, “The Business of Food”

Carin Tunney, Michigan State University writing for Great Lakes Echo, “Can tiny livestock solve big hunger?”