Today the James Beard Foundation released its semifinalists for this year's food-world Oscars, otherwise known as the "long list" that will be whittled down to a list of nominees or finalists in the coming weeks.
And per usual, there is plenty of Bay Area representation on the list, not just in the new Best Chef: California category (formerly Best Chef: West), but also in the Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Bar Program, and Rising Star Chef of the Year categories, among others.
Once again, Trick Dog will vie for the bar category (which it's been short-listed and long-listed for now several times), and once again chefs David Kinch (Manresa) and Corey Lee (Benu) are in the Outstanding Chef category (they were also finalists last year), along with Christopher Kostow at the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena. And Avery Ruzicka of Manresa Bread is long-listed in the Outstanding Baker category, and she earned a nomination in 2019 and likely will again.
In the Rising Star category, which recognizes chefs under 30 who are moving up in their respective kitchens, we have Matthew Kammerer of Harbor House Inn up in Elk, California — who was also honored as a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2019 — and State Bird Provisions chef de cuisine Gaby Maeda.
One interesting surprise is the inclusion of the casual Beit Rima in the Best New Restaurant category, which is a reflection both of its high-caliber food and of its glowing press over the last year, as well as the nominating committee's effort to diversify the types of restaurants that get recognition. And joining Beit Rima in that category is the more upscale Quince offshoot Verjus, which was apparently too new to be included when the long list came out last year.
And as usual, the list of local stars in the Best Chef: California category is long, and includes Night Bird's Kim Alter, Mister Jiu's Brandon Jew, Val M. Canto of Californios, and Joshua Skenes, the co-owner and former executive chef of Saison, listed here for his work at Angler. See all the pre-nominee semifinalists below. The James Beard Chef and Restaurant Awards are happening once again in Chicago on Monday, May 4, with a gala ceremony that many local chefs will fly out to for the night. And we'll know the actual nominee list as of March 25. The 2020 Media Awards, for which there is always a very long list of nominees, will be given out separately at a ceremony in New York on April 24.
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
- Beit Rima, San Francisco
- Verjus, San Francisco
Rising Star Chef of the Year
A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
- Gaby Maeda, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
- Matthew Kammerer, Harbor House Inn, Elk
- Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos
Outstanding Bar Program
- Trick Dog, San Francisco
- David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
- Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
- Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
- Saison, San Francisco
- Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco
Outstanding Pastry Chef
- Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
- House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
- Quince, San Francisco
- Thomas McNaughton, David Steele and David White, Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, San Francisco (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Trick Dog)
- Willy Ng, Magic Gourmet Trading, San Francisco (Koi Palace, Dragon Beaux, Palette Tea House)
Outstanding Wine Program
- Great China, Berkeley
- The Morris, San Francisco
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer
- Yoshihiro Sako, Den Sake Brewery, Oakland, CA
- Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA
Best Chef: California
- Kim Alter, Nightbird, San Francisco
- Val M. Cantu, Californios, San Francisco
- Gabriela Cámara, Cala, San Francisco
- Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco
- Mourad Lahlou, Mourad, San Francisco
- Brandon Rodgers and Ian Scaramuzza, In Situ, San Francisco
- Joshua Skenes, Angler, San Francisco
- James Syhabout, Commis, Oakland, CA
- Karen Taylor Waikiki, El Molino Central, Boyes Hot Springs, CA
- Pim Techamuanvivit, Kin Khao, San Francisco