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Here Are the San Francisco Bay Area’s 2024 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists

Check out the full list

A closeup of a James Beard medal Getty/Victor Spinelli/WireImage
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 Awards are known as the “Oscars of the food world” for good reason — it’s the industry’s highest honor, celebrating the country’s best chefs and restaurants of the year. On Wednesday, January 24, the foundation released its long list of the 2024 semifinalists, with Bay Area chefs highlighted throughout.

Among the restaurant categories, Daly City dim sum legend Koi Palace received a nod in the Outstanding Restaurant category, while two-Michelin-starred Lazy Bear landed in the Outstanding Hospitality category. Under Best New Restaurant, both San Francisco fine dining spot Kiln and Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Chez Noir landed on the long list. Meanwhile, neighborhood favorite The Morris is a semifinalist under the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program category, while Pacific Cocktail Haven received recognition under the Outstanding Bar category.

Meanwhile, for the chef categories, fresh off the publication of the Rintaro cookbook in 2023, Sylvan Mishima Brackett is a semifinalist for Outstanding Chef. Meanwhile, Kristina Costa of the recently-opened Loquat is on the long list for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. In the Emerging Chef category, Emily Lim of pop-up Dabao Singapore received a nod for her Singaporean food, which is currently a takeout, delivery, and catering outfit.

For the Best Chef: California category, ten chefs across San Francisco and the wider Bay Area were recognized for their work and “who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities,” the James Beard Foundation press release states. San Francisco chefs held five of those spots, including Azalina Eusope (Azalina’s); Srijith “Sri” Gopinathan (Copra); Jeong-In Hwang (San Ho Won); Kristina Liedags Compton (Hilda and Jesse); and Laura Ozyilmaz and Sayat Ozyilmaz (Dalida). Over in the East Bay, Oakland chefs C-Y Chia and Shane Stanbridge (Lion Dance Cafe), Geoff Davis (Burdell), and Finn Stern (Daytrip) all received nods in the Best Chef category. Meanwhile, chef Rogelio Garcia of Calistoga’s Auro and Buu “Billy” Ngo of Sacramento-based restaurant Kru also turned up on the Best Chef: California long list. Read the entire list here, with the Bay Area semifinalists below.

The James Beard Foundation encountered more drama within its ranks in 2023, despite the Foundation being just two years into its comeback after canceling its awards seasons in 2020 and 2021 over nominees accused of abusive working conditions and the lack of Black chef winners across the 23 categories. The foundation underwent an internal audit, which resulted in the creation of new award categories and a concerted effort to have at least 50 percent of committee members and judges be people of color. Still, more issues continued to unfold last year.

After an report emerged that 2023 Best Chef, South finalist Timothy Hontzas was disqualified from his category following an investigation into alleged instances of yelling at an employee and guests, both Restaurant and Chef Committee member Todd Price and judge and Oxford, Mississippi-based chef Vishwesh Bhatt resigned. Price told Eater his decision to resign was over how the Foundation handled communicating that Hontzas was disqualified. Bhatt, meanwhile, said his decision was also in part fueled by a lack of communication from the foundation, as well as “a lack of respect for the people doing the job” which includes the time and money spent out of their own pockets traveling and dining at restaurants.

Following Wednesday’s long list announcement, a panel of judges will look through the list of semifinalists to select a smaller number of finalist nominees, which are set to be announced on Wednesday, April 3. A gala will be held in Chicago on Monday, June 10, to announce the final winners.

2024 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

Outstanding Chef (presented by Hilton)

  • Sylvan Mishima Brackett, Rintaro, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Restaurant (presented by Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water)

  • Koi Palace, Daly City, CA

Emerging Chef (presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Mineral Water)

  • Emily Lim, Dabao Singapore, San Francisco, CA

Best New Restaurant

  • Chez Noir, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
  • Kiln, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Kristina Costa, Loquat, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Hospitality (presented by American Airlines)

  • Lazy Bear, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

  • The Morris, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding Bar

  • Pacific Cocktail Haven, San Francisco, CA

Best Chef: California

  • C-Y Chia and Shane Stanbridge, Lion Dance Cafe, Oakland, CA
  • Geoff Davis, Burdell, Oakland, CA
  • Azalina Eusope, Azalina’s, San Francisco, CA
  • Rogelio Garcia, Auro, Calistoga, CA
  • Srijith “Sri” Gopinathan, Copra, San Francisco, CA
  • Jeong-In Hwang, San Ho Won, San Francisco, CA
  • Kristina Liedags Compton, Hilda and Jesse, San Francisco, CA
  • Buu “Billy” Ngo, Kru, Sacramento, CA
  • Laura Ozyilmaz and Sayat Ozyilmaz, Dalida, San Francisco, CA
  • Finn Stern, Daytrip, Oakland, CA

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