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Here Are the 2019 James Beard Award Finalists From the Bay Area

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In the chef and restaurant categories

James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation has winnowed its longer list of semifinalists for 2019 to a short list of finalists, but a sizable group them are right here in the Bay Area. It’s a great year for chefs like Joshua Skenes, who’s now a finalist for Best Chef West and Best New Restaurant for Angler on the Embarcadero. And there’s many more to celebrate, like baker Avery Ruzicka, who’s a finalist for best baker for her work at Manresa Bread.

David Kinch (Manresa) and Corey Lee (Benu), meanwhile, got the finalist nod for Outstanding Chef, and Quince was the lone Bay Area restaurant to make the finalist cut for Outstanding restaurant. Bar Agricole might deserve an award of its own for being a bar program finalist for the millionth time (without taking home the win... yet).

The Bay Area didn’t have any finalists in the Outstanding Restaurateur Category, but it did pick up two extra nominations in the restaurant design section. For restaurant design in a new (but not very defined) “quick bite to eat” or “other” category, Avroko got a nod for its work at China Live, and Schwartz and Architecture (S^A) earned one for their work on El Pipila, a new, quick-service Mexican restaurant focused on cuisine from Guanajuato.

Looking back, San Francisco cleaned up at last year’s James Beard awards. Belinda Leong and Michel Suas of B. Patisserie won the 2018 category for Outstanding Baker, and Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, Bar Crenn, and Petit Crenn) took home Best Chef West. The 2019 winners will be announced in Chicago on May 6, 2019.

Take a look at the whole list, including Media categories, here.


Best New Restaurant

A restaurant opened in 2018 that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine and hospitality, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

  • Angler, San Francisco

Outstanding Baker

A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity, and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries, or breads served in a retail bakery. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.

  • Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos, CA

Outstanding Bar Program

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation, and serving of cocktails, spirits, and/or beer.

  • Bar Agricole, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef

A chef who sets high culinary standards and who has served as a positive example for other food professionals. Must have been working as a chef for the past five years.

  • David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
  • Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco

Outstanding Pastry Chef

A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity, and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries, or breads served in a restaurant. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.

  • Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurant

A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, service, and operations. Must have been in business 10 or more consecutive years.

  • Quince, San Francisco

Outstanding Service

A restaurant in operation for five or more years that demonstrates consistency and exceptional thoughtfulness in hospitality and service.

Outstanding Wine Program

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in wine service through a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.

  • Benu, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional

A beer, wine, or spirits producer who demonstrates consistency and exceptional skill in his or her craft.

  • Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena, CA
  • Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa, CA
  • Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA

Rising Star Chef of the Year

A chef age 30 or younger who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

  • Alexander Hong, Sorrel, San Francisco

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Chefs who set high culinary standards and also demonstrate integrity and admirable leadership skills in their respective regions. A nominee may be from any kind of dining establishment but must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region

  • Joshua Skenes, Saison, San Francisco

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.

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