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Announcing SF’s 2018 James Beard Awards Semifinalists

The long list is here, and Quince and Swan Oyster Depot are nominees for Outstanding Restaurant

James Beard Foundation

More than 20,000 entries in 21 restaurant and chef categories have been considered by the James Beard Foundation, who have pared them down to this list of Semifinalists, released today. San Francisco and the Bay Area are, as usual, well represented by perennial nominees like Belinda Leong and Michel B Suas (B. Patisserie) for Outstanding Baker, as well as newcomers like Rachel Aronow of The Alembic for Rising Star Chef and, in the Best Chef West category, Reem Assil of Reem’s California in Oakland. The whole list is here, while the Bay Area contingent is below.

Three Bay Area restaurants scored a nod in the Outstanding Restaurant Category, the very different contenders of Quince, Swan Oyster Depot, and Koi Palace in Daly City. There were no local semifinalists in the Outstanding Restaurateur category, but many in the realm of Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professionals.

In the coming weeks, an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges from across the country will sort through this “long list” and select a smaller group of finalist nominees, which will be announced on March 14. Finally, a gala will be held on May 7 to announce the winners at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

This year, a new consideration of note this has been the fallout from reports of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, The New York Times reports. “When creating the semifinalist list, the committee certainly took to heart this moment of reckoning in the restaurant industry,” Bill Addison, Eater’s national restaurant critic and the chairman of the restaurant committee, told the paper.

2018 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

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.

The Charter Oak, St. Helena, CA

Outstanding Baker (Presented by Taylor Precision Products)

A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries, or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco

Outstanding Bar Program (Presented by Woodford Reserve Bourbon)

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits, and/or beer service.

Bar Agricole, San Francisco

Trick Dog, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)

A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.

David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA

Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA

Outstanding Pastry Chef (Presented by Lavazza)

A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries, or breads in a restaurant, and who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence. Must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.

Michelle Polzine, 20th Century Café, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)

A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.

Koi Palace, Daly City, CA

Quince, San Francisco

Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco

Outstanding Service

A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.

Saison, San Francisco

Zuni Café, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine Program (Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery)

A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.

Benu, San Francisco

Great China, Berkeley, CA

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional

A beer, wine, or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.

Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena, CA

Tony Coturri, Coturri Winery, Glen Ellen, CA

Miljenko Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA

Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa, CA

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA

Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)

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.

Rachel Aronow, The Alembic, San Francisco

Best Chefs

Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Kim Alter, Nightbird, San Francisco

Reem Assil, Reem’s California, Oakland, CA

Val M. Cantu, Californios, San Francisco

Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Preeti Mistry, Juhu Beach Club, Oakland, CA

Evan Rich and Sarah Rich, Rich Table, San Francisco

Joshua Skenes, Saison, San Francisco

Karen Taylor, El Molino Central, Sonoma, CA