Now that the James Beard Awards semifinalists have been announced, it’s time for a break out session, featuring only those people and places found in Los Angeles. Little known fact: S. Irene Virbila of the LA Times is the only L.A. representative on the James Beard restaurant & chef awards selection committee.
In truth, it’s a surprisingly truncated list of local nods, as the James Beard folks seem to have overlooked a few key players on the scene out here. That’s especially true in the Outstanding Bar Program category, where The Varnish is the only contender from Los Angeles. It’s been spotted on these lists before, and deservedly so, but it’s hard to imagine there are no other worthy bar programs in the City of Angels. Not even Faith & Flower, where the English Milk Punch took home Esquire’s Cocktail of the Year?
It’s also very weak showing for women chefs by the Beard folks this year. Yes, Nancy Silverton won for Outstanding Chef last year, but how are there absolutely no female contenders for Best Chef in the West? Looked at another way, though, it is encouraging to see Jeremy Fox land on the short list after all he’s been through, and for Suzanne Goin to be up for an overall nod as the lead at Lucques.
Other interesting takes include Margarita Manzke has a possible Pastry Chef winner for her outstanding work at Republique, Zach Pollack from Alimento as a Rising Star, and the tiny, cramped Petit Trois as a Best New Restaurant contender.
Check out the full list of L.A.-specific semifinalists below. What got snubbed and what doesn’t deserve the James Beard accolades? Hit the comments with your opinions, and remember that the list gets pared down on March 24 to finalists only, with the ultimate winners getting announced in Chicago on May 4.
Best New Restaurant
Maude, Beverly Hills, CA
Petit Trois, Los Angeles, CA
Outstanding Bar Program
The Varnish, Los Angeles
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Lucques, Los Angeles
Providence, Los Angeles
Outstanding Wine Program
A.O.C., Los Angeles
Spago, Beverly Hills, CA
Rising Star of the Year
Zach Pollack, Alimento, Los Angeles
Ari Taymor, Alma, Los Angeles
Best Chef: West
Josef Centeno, Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Chad Colby, Chi Spacca, Los Angeles
Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, CA
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles