2019 AFJ Awards Competition: The Finalists




Amanda C. Miller, Executive Director, afj.amanda@gmail.com

CiCi Williamson, Awards Manager, 2019AFJawards@gmail.com


The Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) is pleased to announce the 45 finalists in its 2019 awards competition. The awards, which recognize excellence in 15 categories, received 373 entries, the largest in contest history. Started in 1986, AFJ’s awards competition is the nation’s longest-running contest for food journalists.

Categories sometimes change, and this year, the 15 categories included awards for audio and video food coverage; business coverage; policy coverage; restaurant criticism; food coverage; food photography; and newspaper food features, among others. Finalists represent all platforms.

Of the 373 entries, over 150 were published in newspapers; almost 100 were published exclusively online; and 80 were published in magazines. Freelance journalists wrote 127 of the entries. Eater had four finalists, and The New Food Economy, The Washington Post and Midwest Living each had three.

CiCi Williamson managed the contest with assistance from AFJ’s executive director, Amanda C. Miller. A total of 44 highly-qualified judges scored the entries.

Winners of the 2019 AFJ Awards Competition will be announced at the AFJ Awards reception on Thursday, September 19, at euphoria, the Greenville, S.C.-based four-day food, wine and music festival. First-place winners receive a $300 cash prize; second- and third-place winners receive a certificate. All finalists are invited to attend the AFJ Awards reception free of charge; registration is required.

Tickets go on sale later this month for AFJ @ euphoria, which includes the AFJ Awards reception as well as a fireside chat between AFJ member Carlos Frías and José Andrés and educational panels featuring Ashtin Berry, Dan Q. Dao, Kim Severson and more.

The finalists are listed below in alphabetical order.

Best Food Essay

Anna Roth, Eater, “Cloudy with a chance of IKEA Meatballs”

Jackie Summers, Plate Magazine, “Rice is at the Overlap of Poverty and Comfort”

Ruby Tandoh, Eater, “Sugartime. How a taste for sweetness, developed for survival, became a stand-in for everything good — and evil — about our culture”

Best Food Column

Daniel Holzman and Matt Rodbard, Taste

Nik Sharma, “The Brown Kitchen,” San Francisco Chronicle

Tanya Sichynsky, The Washington Post

Best Restaurant Criticism

Eve Hill-Agnus, D Magazine

Brad Johnson, Orange County Register

Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post

Best Writing on Beer, Wine or Spirits

Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, “Ruins”

Emily Timberlake, Taste, “Pizza Pizza, Bubble Bubbles”

Tom Zoellner, Phoenix New Times, “Arizona’s 16 Most Iconic Bars: Character Plus Longevity Equals a Classic”

Best Story on Food Policy or Food Issues

Elizabeth Dunn, Medium, “The Hidden Struggle to Save the Coffee Industry From Disaster”

Barry Estabrook, Eating Well, “This Man Wants You to Eat More Meat”

Liza Gross, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), “Scientists warned this weed killer would destroy crops. EPA approved it anyway”

Best Food Business Story

Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, “Alon Shaya gets a fresh start, with a focus on doing better by his employees”

Elizabeth Dunn, The New Yorker, “The Ex-Noma Chef Who Wants to Make School-Food Reform Big Business”

Joe Fassler, The New Food Economy, “Foreign beef can legally be labeled ‘Product of U.S.A.’ It’s killing America’s grass-fed industry.”

Best Food/Travel Story

Gustavo Arellano, Eater, “The Central Valley is the Heart and Soul of California”

Kinsey Gidick, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, “Your Guide to Charleston’s Best Barbecue”

Jason Wilson, The New York Times, “In Spanish Basque Country, Sampling Cider and an Ancient Ritual”

Best Food Coverage

The Boston Globe

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Magazine

The New Food Economy

Best Newspaper Food Feature

Brett Anderson, The New York Times, “Tokyo in Texas: Distinctive Japanese Food is Thriving in Austin”

Chris Malloy, Phoenix New Times, “A Journey to the Heart of New Arizonan Cuisine”

Mark Vamos, The Dallas Morning News’ Palate magazine, “Viet-Cajun restaurants boil up as D-FW’s hottest melting pot trend”

Best Non-Newspaper Food Feature

Hannah Agran and Andrew Zimmern, Midwest Living, “A Man in Possession of a Chicken is Not in Want of a Meal”

Steve Hoffman, The Growler Magazine, “Smoke and No Mirrors: The effort and integrity behind Northern Waters Smokehaus”

Steve Hoffman, The Growler Magazine, “Tradition & Transcendence: The modest virtuosity of Shigeyuki Furukawa”

Best Special Food Project

Danielle Renwick, The New Food Economy, “The Hands That Feed Us. Immigrant food workers, in their own words.”

Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post, “Mass Appeal/A taste of the nation’s most popular restaurants”

Rachel Tepper Paley, Mic, “The James Beard awards might be getting more diverse but these graphs show there's a long way to go”

Best Audio Food Journalism

Madelyn Beck, Illinois Newsroom, “Weekend at the International Horseradish Festival”

Marion Kane, Marion Kane: Food Sleuth, “Sistering Feeds Body and Soul”

Emily Spicer, Mike Sutter, Chuck Blount and Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, “Poor Manners, Good Fats, Pellet Smokers”

Best Food Video

Justin Lundstrom, Thrillist, Really Dough, “Ramen Pizza: Is it actually Pizza?”

Justin Lundstrom, Thrillist, InstaChef, “Timothy DeLaGhetto Reviews Philly's Secret Food”

McGraw Wolfman and Murilo Ferreira, Eater, “Watch: Tokyo’s Tuna King Reigns at Tsukiji Fish Market”

Best Food Photo

Melanie Albert, Natural Awakenings, Phoenix & Northern Arizona Magazine, “Local Arizona Spring Veggies”

Carson Downing, Midwest Living, “Chicken Carnitas Tacos”

Blaine Moats, Midwest Living, “Roasted Shrimp Cocktail”

Best Writing on Food, Student Division

Tayler Brown, Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, produced by Arizona State University, "Native American farmers plan moves to global market, greater sustainability"

Jared Kaufman, Vox Magazine, Columbia Missourian, “Catfishing continues to be a generational pastime”

Forest Wilson and Rachel Lorenz, The Colorado Independent, “In time of plenty, students on Colorado campuses are hungry”