The James Beard Foundation Awards long-list arrived today, which is the list of semi-finalist restaurants, bars, and chefs which will ultimately be whittled down to a list of finalist nominees next month. And among this year's potential honorees in the Best New Restaurant category are two San Francisco spots, Ravi Kapur's popular one-year-old Hawaii-meets-California restaurant Liholiho Yacht Club, and chef Gabriela Camara's first U.S. restaurant Cala, which opened to raves in December.
(No love for AL's Place, Mourad, or Octavia, all of which earned Michelin stars out of the gate this past year?)
Each year, these "Oscars of the food world" honor not only the best, hottest, longest lived, and/or most successful restaurants across the country, but also the best chefs in each region of the country, top bar programs, best restaurant designs, and latest and greatest in food journalism, books, and cookbooks. And, for the second year in a row, the big awards ceremony will be taking place in Chicago, on May 2 for many years the Beard Awards were a New York thing, but now they are on the move. (See last year's winners here.)
San Francisco has taken home the awards for Best Chef in the Western region the last couple of years Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions and The Progress took it last year, and Daniel Patterson won it in 2014 and SF restaurants have loomed large at the national awards ceremony for most of the last half decade, with stalwarts like Slanted Door and Boulevard winning for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S. in two of the last four years.
Among the semi-finalists in that category this year are Foreign Cinema, Gary Danko, and Acquerello which also got a recent new honor when it was elevated to two Michelin stars.
In the national Outstanding Chef category are Meadowood's Christopher Kostow, Manresa's David Kinch, Boulevard's Nancy Oakes, and Quince's Michael Tusk.
And in the all-important Rising Star Chef category, we have Aatxe and Central Kitchen chef Ryan Pollnow, and former Huxley chef Sara Hauman who may need to wait for another chance at a nomination since she left the kitchen at that one-year-old restaurant last month (she's going to work in the kitchen at Brandon Jew's soon-to-open Chinatown spot Mister Jiu's). Last year this award went to another local, Jessica Largey, chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos.
It should be noted that the Chronicle's Michael Bauer has long served as the Bay Area's representative on the restaurant and chef nominating committee for the James Beard Awards, so his opinions of these places matter greatly in this process.