2018 AFJ Awards Competition: The Winners


Phoenix, AZ -- The Association of Food Journalists announced the winners in its 2018 awards competition at a ceremony in Phoenix, AZ this evening. The awards, which recognized excellence in 16 categories of food writing and editing, visuals and multimedia, received 346 entries. Started in 1986, AFJ’s awards competition is the oldest still-functioning contest for food journalists.

Micki Maynard managed the judging process with assistance from AFJ’s executive director, Amanda C. Miller.

Finalists were announced in May; first-, second- and third-place winners were disclosed at the association’s annual conference in Phoenix. First-place winners receive a $300 cash prize.

The Association of Food Journalists is a professional organization founded in 1971 and dedicated to preserving and perpetuating responsible food journalism across media platforms.

The winners:

Best Food Essay

TIE FOR FIRST Devra First, Boston Globe, “Instagram is ruining food, and I might be the only one who cares”; Anna Mindess KQED, “Refugees’ Life Stories Deepen the Brew at 1951 Coffee Company

THREE WAY TIE FOR SECOND: Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, “The gayest cook in the Castro”; Adam Erace, TASTE, “ Down the Shore, Crab Gravy Is King”; Patricia Escárcega, Phoenix New Times, “Mother’s Milk

Best Food Column

1. Jenn Hall, Spoonful Magazine

2. Tamar Haspel, The Washington Post

TWO WAY TIE FOR THIRD: Mark Antonation, Westword; Debbie Koenig, Weight Watchers Magazine

Best Restaurant Criticism

1. Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post

2. Hanna Raskin, The Post and Courier

3. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News

Best Writing on Beer, Wine or Spirits

1. Andrew Curry, National Geographic, “Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze

2. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, “Enjoy the last drop with our guide to after-dinner drinks

3. Kevin Alexander, Thrillist, “The Craft Cocktail Revolution is Over. Now What?

Best Story on Food Policy or Food Issues

1. Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico, “The vegetable technology gap

2. Helen Freund, The Lens, “New Orleans chefs are joining the fight to rebuild Louisiana’s coast

3. Joe Fassler and Claire Brown, The Atlantic, “Prison Food is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick

Best Food Business Story

1. H. Claire Brown, The New Food Economy, “How North Carolina became the home of Japan’s #1 candy

2. Bianca Bosker, WIRED, “How The Trendiest Grilled Cheese Venture Got Burnt

3. Ari LeVaux, Food & Environmental Reporting Network and The Weather Channel, “Climate change threatens Montana’s barley farmers — and possibly your beer

Best Food/Travel Story

1. Bianca Bosker, Roads & Kingdoms, “Why Should a Melon Cost As Much As A Car?”   

2. J.M. Hirsch, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, “In Pursuit Of Perfect Hummus

3. Steve Hoffman, The Growler Magazine, “Five Tables and the Sea: The restorative simplicity of Anne Majourel

Best Newspaper Food Coverage

Circulation category A: Above 125,000

1. The Washington Post, Bonnie Benwick, Matt Brooks, Joe Yonan, editors

2.  Star Tribune, Lee S. Dean, food editor

3. Tampa Bay Times, Michelle Stark, food editor

Circulation category B: Below 125,000

TIE FOR FIRST The Boston Globe, Chris Morris, food and travel editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nancy Stohs, food, home and gardening editor

2. The Post and Courier, Hanna Raskin, food editor

Best Food Coverage in a Magazine

1. J.M. Hirsch, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

2. Eve Hill-Agnus, D Magazine

TIE FOR THIRD Hannah Agran, Midwest Living; Leah Eskin, Baltimore Magazine

Best Newspaper Food Feature

Circulation category A: Above 125,000

1. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, “Steeped in controversy: Tea guru in the fight of a lifetime

2. Maura Judkis, The Washington Post, “Can smart kitchen devices actually make you a better cook?

3. Steve Hoffman, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Learn how to cook Hmong from the Twin Cities master

Circulation category B: Below 125,000

1. Devra First, The Boston Globe, “The strange but true story of a tricky crop, a vicious fungus, and the War on Drugs

2. Kathleen Purvis, The Charlotte Observer,  Living with cerebral palsy, he’s also become ‘The Dude’: A food critic. Can this be his future?

3. Samara Kalk Derby, Wisconsin State Journal, “A thriving food culture is making Viroqua the place to be

Best Non-Newspaper Food Feature

1. Eve Hill-Agnus, D Magazine, “Taste Japan in Dallas”

TIE FOR SECOND Steve Hoffman, The Growler, “Minnesota Spoon: Travail cooks traditional with Bob Gerken, James Winberg, and Mike Brown”

Steve Hoffman, The Growler, “Minnesota Spoon: Beyond barbecue — Thomas Boemer’s expansive vision for cooking with fire

Best Special Food Project

1. Maura Judkis, Emily Heil, The Washington Post, “Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?

2. Jill Wendholt Silva, The Kansas City Star, “In landlocked Midwest, fish and seafood can still be fresh, sustainable and local”

3. Paolo Lucchesi, Shakirah Simley, George McCalman, Esther Mobley, Jonathan Kauffman, Shanna Farrell, Justin Phillips, Tannis Reinhertz, Thuy Tran, Bonnie Tsui, Illyanna Maisonet, Omar Mamoon, Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle,”Refuge: Stories about finding humanity through food

Best Audio Food Journalism

1. Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media, “How books and buses are fighting summer hunger in rural Alaska

2. Simran Sethi, KCRW Good Food, “We eat with our ears

3. Lisa Morehouse, California Foodways for KQED, The California Report, “From Underdogs To State Champs, Tiny High School Team Heads to Cooking Nationals

Best Single Interactive Digital Food Project

1. J. Emory Parker, Hanna Raskin, The Post and Courier, Fried Chicken

2. Staff Writers, San Antonio Express-News Taste Team, Top 100 Dining & Drinks

3. Staff Writers, San Antonio Express-News Taste Team,  365 Days of Tacos

Best Food Photo

1. Blaine Moats, Midwest Living, Sheet Pan Sausages and Fall Vegetables

2. Blaine Moats, Midwest Living, Salmon Smørrebrød

3. Felipe Cuevas, INDULGE Magazine, The Miami Herald, Food on Fire

Best Writing on Food, Student Division

1. Jared Kaufman, Vox Magazine, University of Missouri, “Columbia’s hidden figure: Verna Laboy brings Annie Fisher to Life

2. Carlynn Crosby, Tampa Bay Times, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, “We Tried That: Fermenting vegetables is quite easy

3. Lily Jackson, The Auburn Plainsman, Auburn University, “The ‘American Dream’ with a side of pasta”