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Beard Predictions: Who Will Win Best Chef Pacific?

Later today, the brightest stars of the restaurant industry will descend upon New York for the 2009 James Beard Awards. Three locals are up for the major national awards—Boulevard (Outstanding Restaurant), Nate Appleman (Rising Star) and Nicole Plue (Pastry Chef)—but in terms local rooting interests, the fun category this year is probably Best Chef: Pacific. All five nominees are from the Bay Area (suck it, LA), and remember that Craig Stoll took the regional category last year, so fine dining is not necessarily a trump card. Though Bauer is far too diplomatic to choose a winner, we're really more interested in who you think should win. Then, we'll see how well the reader votes match up with the choices of the JBA voting panel tonight. Have at it: