Welcome to day two of the 9th annual Eater Awards, honoring the most talented restaurant and bar industry gurus in cities across the world. Here’s how the Eater Awards work: All 24 Eater cities and the national site will award prizes in multiple categories, including but not limited to Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Design of the Year. In each category, editors will choose an editor’s choice winner and readers will vote for a reader’s choice winner — all to be announced on December 5, 2018.
Without further ado, choose a chef (or chef duo) for the reader’s choice winner in the Chef of the Year category. Polls will be open for 24 hours and will be strictly policed for funny business.
Mel Lopez and Joyce Conway
Before they opened Pearl in the Outer Richmond this year, Lopez and Conway spent years honing their style at Pizzetta 211 and through their own pop-up, BLUD (Bitches Liven Up Dinner). Now it’s on display at Pearl, a simultaneously neighborhood restaurant with oysters, cocktails, and a buzzy atmosphere. Since opening, it’s earned accolades for what former ESF critic Rachel Levin called “comfort food, but fit for 2018,” with pastas like white bolognese and spicy spaghetti.
Assil has had a very big year. In addition to welcoming a human baby into her family, she also opened a full-scale restaurant baby with chef Daniel Patterson, called Dyafa, and earned a place on the James Beard semifinalist list for Best Chef: West. The Jack London Square restaurant is an extension of her casual Fruitvale bakery, giving the chef an opportunity to show off more of the Arabic dishes for which she’s become known.
Yun’s first restaurant, Nyum Bai, has taken the Bay Area by storm, bringing Cambodian food into the limelight both locally and nationally. What began as a pop-up then grew into a kiosk at the Emeryville Public Market, and eventually landed in a small restaurant space near the Fruitvale Bart station. Nyum Bai is undeniably delicious, and true to Yun’s experience as a child of Cambodian immigrants. Yun was also honored as a 2018 Eater Young Gun winner, and a Rising Star at the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s Saucy Awards.
David Nayfeld and Angela Pinkerton
Che Fico brings a rustic Italian style to Divisadero, offering a buzzy, second floor perch for consuming charcuterie, pastas, and chef Nayfeld’s “SF-style” pizzas. Pinkerton, who has been heading up the excellent pastry program, has simultaneously launched a downstairs “luncheonette” called Theorita, with a focus on homey dishes like meatloaf and a long list of pies, milkshakes, and more.
From Quince to pop-ups to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Alex Hong is serving Italian-influenced California cuisine at his own speed. Sorrel, which he and partner Colby Heiman designed themselves, is an updated version of this city’s somewhat staid interpretation of “Cal-Ital” in Pacific Heights. Pastas, dry-aged roast duck for two, and sourdough focaccia are excellent examples of the genre. The chef also won Chef of the Year at the GGRA’s Saucy awards.