Los Angeles is looking primed for another deep run at this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards. The city’s culinary tradition is getting some serious recognition across several of the semifinalist categories, which were only released earlier this morning. Of course that's no guarantee of success, as we've seen in the past.
Here’s a breakdown of the L.A. love happening within the James Beard Foundation right now:
Outstanding Bar Program
The Varnish, Los Angeles
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles
A.O.C., Los Angeles
Providence, Los Angeles
Roy Choi, Los Angeles
Saam at the Bazaar by José Andrés, Beverly Hills, CA
Outstanding Wine Programs
Spago, Beverly Hills, CA
Studio at the Montage, Laguna Beach, CA
Best Chef: West
Josef Centeno, Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Travis Lett, Gjelina, Venice
Ori Menashe, Bestia, Los Angeles
Carlos Salgado, Taco Maria, Costa Mesa
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles
Kris Yenbamroong, Night + Market Song, Los Angeles
Obviously there are some big, well-known names on that list (Spago, Suzanne Goin, Josef Centeno, Ludo), but it's really refreshing to see some smaller options making the semifinal cut. Margarita Manzke's work at Republique has been really, really spectacular for a long time now, and having her get a pastry chef nod is a wonderful sight to see.
Perhaps the biggest coup on this list anywhere is Baroo, the two-man Hollywood strip mall spot that's been turning out some of the city's most inventive dishes. It's a real validation for Kwang Uh to make this list — even though the restaurant itself is, funnily enough, closed this week.
The James Beard Foundation Awards take place Monday, May 2 at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. Anything/anyone the Foundation missed? Share your gripes in the comments below.