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Announcing San Francisco’s 2023 James Beard Award Finalists

Wednesday’s announcement includes Vince Bugtong of Abacá, and more

The exterior of SingleThread in downtown Healdsburg. SingleThread
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards on Wednesday, March 29th, after a panel of judges whittled down its long list released in January.

Pastry chef Vince Bugtong landed a nomination in the outstanding pastry chef or baker category. Bugtong most recently worked at Oakland’s Viridian — and before that at La Folie and Breadbelly — before he moved over to the pastry chef position at chef Francis Ang’s restaurant Abacá in San Francisco this past January. Bugtong is known for his penchant for taking a classic dessert and inflecting it with Asian flavors, such as a recent salted egg yema cake with almond yogurt namelaka, and strawberries.

The Mission District’s Lazy Bear also moved on to the list of finalists in the outstanding wine and other beverages program category. Lazy Bear debuted as a restaurant in 2014, following a wildly popular run as an underground dinner series from chef David Barzelay. The restaurant currently holds two Michelin stars and maintains an impressive wine list with over 1,700 selections and “one of the worldʼs deepest collections of mature California vintages,” according to the Lazy Bear website.

Chefs Kyle and Katina Connaughton landed a nomination in the best chef: California category, beating out a number of other high-profile, local chefs that were on the long list in January, including James Syhabout of Commis in Oakland and Val Cantu of Californios in San Francisco. The Connaughtons opened SingleThread in 2016 and led the restaurant to its three-Michelin star status, as well as earning a rarer Michelin green star for the restaurant’s commitment to sustainable practices.

This is the second year back for the awards after the foundation canceled the 2020 and 2021 award seasons and carried out an audit in 2021, which saw the creation of an ethics committee and sought to avoid biases in the awards process going forward. The foundation also stopped automatically including prior winners in the voting body, and stated it is aiming for a more inclusive committee, with people of color making up at least 50 percent of members and judges for the 2023 awards.

Below are the Bay Area nominees. The whole list of nominees can be read here, and the final winners will be announced at a gala held in Chicago on Monday, June 5.

2023 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Award Finalists

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Vince Bugtong, Abacá, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

  • Lazy Bear, San Francisco, CA

Best Chef: California

  • Kyle and Katina Connaughton, SingleThread, Healdsburg, CA

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2023.