James Beard Awards Announce Semifinalists: Bay Area's Well Represented, Obviously

​The day has come for the James Beard Foundation to announce the semifinalists for the 2012 Restaurant Awards. As SFoodie has written before, the finals can resemble the Oscars in that they're often career awards rather than a measure of how the nominees are performing at this very moment. That's why the list of semifinalists, for us, is the one we enjoy reading through the most. It measures the esteem of thousands upon thousands of ballots from diners and food media alike, and is worth consulting every time you travel out of state.

This year, the two most interesting competitions are the Rising Star Chef Award (recognizing chefs under the age of 30) and the Pacific regional competition (California and Hawaii). More than ever before, the 2012 list of semifinalists, in particular, zeroes in on chefs in LA and San Francisco who are practicing the New California Cuisine -- technically intricate and sometimes daring cuisine that's just as seasonal and local as food from the chefs' forebears.

Here is the full list of Bay Area and wine country semifinalists. You can find the full list [in PDF form] on the James Beard Foundation's website.

Best New Restaurant
Park Tavern

Outstanding Bar Program
Bar Agricole

Outstanding Chef
Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko
David Kinch, Manresa (Los Gatos)
Charles Phan, The Slanted Door

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Melissa Chou, Aziza
Lisa Lu, Jardinière

Outstanding Restaurant
Foreign Cinema
Terra (St. Helena)

Outstanding Restaurateur
Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal and Doug Washington, Stock & Bones (Town Hall, Salt House, etc.)

Outstanding Service
Cyrus (Healdsburg)
Michael Mina

Outstanding Wine Program

Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol)
David Hirsch, Hirsch Vineyards (Cazadero)
Jörg Rupf, St. George Spirits
Abe Schoener, The Scholium Project (Napa)

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food
Preston Clark, El Paseo
Aaron London, formerly of Ubuntu (Napa)
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water

Best Chef, Pacific
Matthew Accarrino, SPQR
Michael Chiarello, Bottega (Yountville)
Chris Cosentino, Incanto
Loretta Keller, CoCo500
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena)
Mourad Lahlou, Aziza
Corey Lee, Benu
Daniel Patterson, Coi
Richard Reddington, Redd (Yountville)

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