Los Angeles is sitting pretty in this year’s run-up to the James Beard Foundation Awards. Semifinalists were announced today in a big blast from the non-profit organization, and the Southland basically has the pick of the litter. Let’s take a look at who’s up for what.
First is the much-heralded Best New Restaurant category, with Curtis Stone’s Gwen and David Schlosser’s Shibumi in the hunt. Both are fantastic, though very different restaurants, and it’s easy to understand their national appeal.
On the chef side of things, you’ve got pastry impresarios Margarita Manzke (Republique) and Shannon Swindle (Craft), with the recently-returned Miles Thompson in a surprise role as Rising Star Chef of the Year for his work at Michael’s in Santa Monica. Oddly Daniel Patterson is listed as Los Angeles for his work at LocoL in Watts, though he’s primarily known as a Bay Area chef, and partner Roy Choi isn’t mentioned at all. Caroline Styne is up as restaurateur for her expanding empire.
Biggest of all is the Best Chef: West category, which is split between all of California, plus Hawaii and Nevada. Los Angeles-area chefs control a full 50% of the board there so far, thanks to a wide-ranging list of semifinalists that includes Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market, Bryant Ng of Cassia, and more.
Got beef with this year’s list of semifinalists? Hit the comments below. The truncated list of official nominees will be unveiled March 15 in a live press conference right here in Los Angeles, with chef and restaurant awards to follow in Chicago on May 1.
Best New Restaurant
Gwen, Los Angeles
Shibumi, Los Angeles
Alex Phaneuf and Or Amsalam, Lodge Bread Co., Los Angeles
Outstanding Bar Program
The Varnish, Los Angeles
Daniel Patterson, LocoL, Los Angeles
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Margarita Manzke, Republique, Los Angeles
Shannon Swindle, Craft, Los Angeles
La Casita Mexicana, Bell, CA
Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group, Los Angeles
Marche Moderne, Costa Mesa, CA
Melisse, Santa Monica, CA
Providence, Los Angeles
Spago, Beverly Hills, CA
Outstanding Wine Program
Studio at Montage, Laguna Beach, CA
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Miles Thompson, Michael’s, Santa Monica, CA
Best Chef: West
Wes Avila, Guerrilla Tacos, Los Angeles
Josef Centeno, Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, CA
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Travis Lett, Gjelina, Venice, CA
Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles
Bryant Ng, Cassia, Santa Monica, CA
Carlos Salgado, Taco Maria, Costa Mesa, CA
Kris Yenbamroong, Night + Market Song, Los Angeles