Be a Homer and Root for These James Beard Semifinalists

​The press releases have gone out, and the betting is now open: This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists in its annual restaurant awards, which are often called the Oscars of the food world (mostly by people writing up these award press releases). They're really a measure of the national impact of local restaurants; the awards identify who's getting written up in a way that draws food writers from other cities to eat there and trumpet the place as well. Even a semifinalist nomination is worth $$$ for a restaurant, so congratulations to everyone who made it this far. 

Since the nominees for the big awards are largely without surprise (Michael Mina, OMG! Yeah, no shock there), I most enjoy seeing who made it in three categories: new restaurant, rising chef, and Pacific regional chef. The local, not to say national, competition in all three categories is fierce and actually compelling. 

Best New Restaurant
Bar Agricole

Outstanding Chef
Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko
Michael Mina, Michael Mina
Charles Phan, The Slanted Door

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Melissa Chou, Aziza

Outstanding Restaurant
The Slanted Door

Outstanding Restaurateur
Pat Kuleto (Boulevard, Epic Roasthouse, Farallon, Jardinière, Martini House, Nick's Cove, and Waterbar)

Outstanding Service
Michael Mina

Outstanding Wine Service
Shelley Lindgren, A16
Ken Frank and Scott Tracy, La Toque

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery
Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines
Rajat Parr, Mina Group
Jorg Rupf, St. George Spirits

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Sean Baker, Gather
Perry Hoffman, Etoile
Aaron London, Ubuntu
Thomas McNaughton, Flour and Water

Best Chef, Pacific
Laurence Jossel, Nopa
Loretta Keller, Coco500
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood
Mourad Lahlou, Aziza
Corey Lee, Benu
Daniel Patterson, Coi
Gayle Pirie and John Clark, Foreign Cinema
Richard Reddington, Redd
James Syhabout, Commis
Michael Tusk, Quince

Voting on this round now begins, and the finalists will be named March 21. Read the full press release and list of semifinalists on the James Beard Foundation website. Also, if you're a real data collector, you can compare this lineup against the list of Bay Area semifinalists from last year.

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