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Here Is the Bay Area James Beard Media Award Winner for 2023

Plus, the Civic Center farmers market is not actually shutting down and more food news

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A woman.
Illyanna Maisonet won the emerging voice award for her book Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook.
Getty Images for The James Beard
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

The James Beard Media Award winners were announced on Saturday, June 3, and the Bay Area made an appearance among those recognized. Most notably, Puerto Rican chef, food writer, and author Illyanna Maisonet — who grew up in Sacramento — won the emerging voice award for her book Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook. Maisonet drew on her San Francisco Chronicle column “Cocina Boricua” for much of the book’s writing, incorporating her experiences alongside “Cali-Rican” recipes. Indeed, her writing is for “the 5.5 million people living Stateside who continue to cook the food of our homeland.”

It’s been a tumultuous time for the James Beard Awards. In 2022 the ceremony returned after a two year-break and external auditing to better understand and support diversity throughout the awards. No matter, as drama ensued in 2023 over the same issues. This year there’s been complicated back-and-forths between nominated chefs and the organization to determine restaurateurs' ethics, while Restaurant and Chef Committee members resigned. Still, the awards are set to take the stage in Chicago on Monday, June 5 honoring chefs and restaurants who — theoretically at least — raise the bar of excellence in the food and beverage industries.

The Civic Center farmers market is not actually shutting down

Fans of the Heart of the City Farmers Market were concerned to hear it may shut down thanks to a bit of confusing marketing from a local nonprofit. TogetherSF Action, a political action group in the city, began a campaign called “That’s Fentalife” detailing how the Civic Center farmers market is about to close. The Chronicle cleared up the mystique by talking to the market’s executive director Steve Pulliam who told the paper he was just as surprised to learn from erroneous Fox News reporting that his market was closing. “I can assure you we are still in existence,” Pulliam told the Chronicle. “We typically have 30-40 vendors a day and certainly have more than a handful of customers.”

Mission District Italian restaurant team set to open French restaurant in Truckee

Great Gold, the Italian restaurant that closed in 2020 thanks to COVID, moved to the Lake Tahoe area for a new lease — on life, and in a literal new location. Now, SFGATE writes the restaurant is more popular than ever in Truckee and ownership will soon open French bistro Tangerine. As Great Gold brought the first bocce court to Truckee, so too will Tangerine be the first French restaurant in town when it opens down the road.

Bay Area chef pop-up takes over hit wine bar

Four Kings, a supergroup of NorCal cooking talent dishing up jellyfish salad and toasted nori, will join Buddy the Bar every Wednesday in June. Buddy is no slouch in the wine and low-ABV cocktail game, recently recognized as one of the best bars in America by Esquire. In an Instagram post the pop-up revealed the new menu, which includes fried squab, black pepper steak, and passion fruit pudding.

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. All editorial content, including this post, is produced independently of the James Beard Foundation.

Update: June 7th, 2023, 12:55 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that Illyanna Maisonet is from Sacramento.