James Beard Award Nominations Announced

Bay Area Takes All Five Nominations for Best Chef in Pacific Region; Boulevard and A 16's Nate Appleman Among Locals Competing For Top Prizes

The prestigious James Beard Awards, given by the James Beard Foundation and often referred to as the Oscars of the restaurant and food media industries, announced their 2009 nominees.

Local restaurants and chefs competing for the top prizes include Boulevard, nominated for the Outstanding Restaurant award (against NY's Babbo and Jean-Georges, Fore Street of Portland, Maine, and Highlands Bar & Grill of Birmingham, Alabama), and A16's Nate Appleman, nominated with 4 other chefs aged 30 and under for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville is in the running for the Outstanding Pastry Chef award.

Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Wines in Sebastopol and John Shafer and Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards in Napa are among the five nominated for the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional award.

In the regional Best Chefs in America, the Pacific region (including California and Hawaii) features an all-Bay Area lineup: Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu in Napa, Douglas Keane of Cyrus in Healdsburg, Loretta Keller of Coco500 in San Francisco, David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, and Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco, completely shutting out our neighbors to the south and west.

The popular San Francisco dim sum establishment Yank Sing, open since 1958 and now run by the third generation of the Chan family, has been given one of the America's Classics awards, given to "small, regional restaurants, watering holes, shacks, lunch counters, or eateries that have offered good, down-home food and unmatched hospitality for generations." (We're not superstitious, but two of 2009's other America's Classics, Breitbach's Country Dining in Idaho and Totonno's pizza place on Coney Island, have recently suffered fires.  Clean out those grease traps!)

Locals also feature in the Broadcast and Journalism nominees: Chow.com and the Culinary Institute of America for Video Webcast, the SF Chronicle for Best Newspaper Food Section, Sunset's Oneblockdiet.com for Best Blog Focusing on Food, Beverage, Restaurants, or Nutrition, Jon Bonne of the SF Chronicle for Best Writing on Spirits, Wine, or Beer, and Chow.com for Best Website Focusing on Food, Beverage, Restaurants, or Nutrition.

In the Books awards, both Ten Speed Press (Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited) and Chronicle Books (Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans) have a finalist in the American Cooking category, as well as one from Chronicle Books (Baking for All Occasions: A Treasury of Recipes for Everyday Celebrations) in the Baking nominees. Up for the Beverage award is The Wines of Burgundy from the University of California Press. In Cooking from a Professional Point of View, Ten Speed Press (along with Achatz LLC) put out Grant Achatz's Alinea, and The French Laundry's Thomas Keller's Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide is also nominated. The Bay Area has a presence in all three nominees in the Single Subject category: Ten Speed Press published Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes; Joyce Goldstein wrote Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings, and Chronicle Books published The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever. And local food god Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food is nominated for the Writing and Literature award.   

The Awards will be presented at shows and banquets on May 3 and 4 in New York. This year's theme for the banquets is Women in Food. Read the complete list of nominees here.

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