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Chefs Sherry Pocknett and 'Diasporican' author Illyanna Maisonet make James Beard Award history

This June, two women made James Beard Award history. Chef Sherry Pocknett is the first Indigenous woman to earn a James Beard Award (Best Chef, Northeast). And chef, food writer, and author Illyanna Maisonet is the first Puerto Rican to earn a James Beard Award. Illyanna won in the “Emerging Voice” category for her book, Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook.

This hour, Rachel Sayet, an Indigenous educator and member of the Mohegan Tribe, talks with Sherry, who is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, about her restaurants Sly Fox Den Too, which is in Charlestown, RI., as well as the restaurant she hopes to launch in Connecticut. Sherry also describes what it felt like to win the James Beard Award.

And, producer Katrice Claudio talks with Illyanna, who received her medallion during the James Beard Media Awards ceremony on June 3. Illyanna talks about culinary school, the cultural influences that make up Puerto Rican cuisine, and her approach to cooking Puerto Rican food—her way.


  • Sherry Pocknett: James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of Sly Fox DenToo. She is the first Indigenous woman to win a James Beard Award.
  • Illyanna Maisonet: James Beard Award-winning food writer. She is the first Puerto Rican woman to win a James Beard Award and the first Puerto Rican food columnist for a major newspaper in the United States, the San Francisco Chronicle. Her newsletter is on Substack and her first book is Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook.

Arroz Chino Boricua

In her segment, Sherry mentioned farmer Jeremy Whipple. He’s the director of Mashantucket Pequot’s Meechooôk Farm, where they make what Sherry calls “the best maple syrup in all the land.” CT Public's Patrick Skahill featured the farm in a series about BIPOC farmers.

This show was produced by Robyn Doyon-Aitken, Catie Talarski, Meg Dalton, Tagan Engel, Katrice Claudio, Stephanie Stender, and Meg Fitzgerald, with help from Sabrina Herrera and Riley Brown on Social. Our interns are Stacey Addo and Carol Chen.

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email: seasoned@ctpublic.org.

Seasoned is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Robyn Doyon-Aitken is the Deputy Director of Audio Storytelling and Talk Shows
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.
Meg Dalton is the director of audio storytelling and talk shows for Connecticut Public where she oversees the station’s talk shows and podcasts, including the limited series 'In Absentia'.
Tagan Engel is a producer/contributor and guest co-host of Seasoned. She is the founder of The Table Underground radio show, podcast, and website, and is a social justice organizer and trained chef.
Katrice Claudio is a producer of Seasoned.
Stephanie Stender is a producer of Seasoned.