San Francisco restaurants and chefs took home big wins at the James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday, June 13, in Chicago. The local winners included chef Brandon Jew, owner of Mister Jiu’s, and Understory in Oakland, with nods to Grace Young and Martin Yan.
It’s taken a few years to get back in the swing of things, but the James Beard Awards returned in full force in 2022. The organization was beset by controversy in 2020, but Bay Area and Northern California restaurants and food professionals brought back the good energy this year. There were plenty of nominations, and a number of wins in the media category, in addition to last night’s hospitality awards ceremony.
The Best Chef: California award went to Brandon Jew, owner of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco. Celebrity chefs Dominique Crenn and Tanya Holland were giddy to bring their colleague up on stage. Jew is known for catapulting Chinese American food further than ever before, beginning in 2016 and shows no sign of stopping; he and Tienlon Ho won another James Beard this week in the Restaurant and Professional category for their cookbook Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food. Oakland restaurant Understory took home the Emerging Leadership award, too. Developed by Understory Worker Collective and the nonprofit Oakland Bloom, the non-traditional restaurant offers affordable kitchen space, free and sliding scale food distribution, mutual aid, business training, and mentorship programs for immigrant, refugee, and historically marginalized communities.
Grace Young was awarded the Humanitarian Award, along with the prize of $20,000, by Michael Phillips, CEO of the James Beard Foundation. A co-creator of Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories, Young continues to work to protect and amplify the lives of those in the AAPI community. Martin Yan, the mid-1970s Chinese restaurant owner and evangelist, took home the 2022 Lifetime Achievement award.
Now that it’s all said and done, with the full list of awards in the books, the winners will be back in the Bay Area ready to keep pushing the envelope when it comes to fine dining and good food.