Today, the James Beard Foundation announced its Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for 2020, a list that includes a significant number of Bay Area bars, restaurants, and industry leaders including several well-known standbys and some new contenders.
This is the 30th year of the awards, which are intended (per its website) to honor “exceptional talent and creativity” across the US food, beverage, and hospitality industry. How the awards are meted out is regularly revamped, the Foundation says: In 2019, the organization changed the makeup of its nominating committees in an effort to diversify its nominees. This year, the change is related to geography, as it has added categories like a California-specific Best Chef honor and shuffled its regional groupings.
Next stop for these semifinalists is Wednesday, March 25, when at 9 a.m. ET, the final nominees will be livestreamed and tweeted. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 4, at the 2020 James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago. (Winners of the 2020 Media Awards will be announced a bit earlier, at a New York event on Friday, April 24.)
Now, here are the Bay Area semifinalists. Head here for the full nationwide list.
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.
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.
- Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos
Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits, and/or beer service.
- Trick Dog, San Francisco
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
- Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
- Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.
- Saison, San Francisco
- Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco
Outstanding Pastry Chef
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.
- Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
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.
- House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
- Quince, San Francisco
A restaurateur who demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations. Must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
- 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
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.
- Great China, Berkeley
- The Morris, San Francisco
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer
A beer, wine, or spirits producer that has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.
- Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena
- Yoshihiro Sako, Den Sake Brewery, Oakland
- Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda
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
Best Chef: California
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.
- 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
- Karen Taylor Waikiki, El Molino Central, Boyes Hot Springs
- Pim Techamuanvivit, Kin Khao, San Francisco
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.