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Here Are All of LA’s 2018 James Beard Award Finalists

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Kismet, Felix, and AOC lead this year’s nominations

Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson of Kismet
Brandon Harmon
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Everyone knows that it’s a spectacular time to be dining in Los Angeles, across the cultural and financial spectrum. But in recent years the James Beard Foundation seems to have thought otherwise, largely leaving the city behind in its final awards tallies. In fact, LA didn’t notch a single James Beard Foundation Award restaurant last year, after pulling in three the previous go-round.

Thankfully this year things are almost guaranteed to go differently, seeing as how the list of finalists skews so heavily towards Southern California. Last month’s list of semi-finalists showed promise for what was to come, but today’s announcement of the true finalists has LA out to a pretty big lead. Let’s take a look at who’s up for the awards this year.

Best New Restaurant

Felix Trattoria, Venice CA
Kismet, Los Angeles

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles

Outstanding Restaurateur

Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group (Lucques; a.o.c.; Tavern and others), Los Angeles

Outstanding Wine Program

a.o.c., Los Angeles

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Miles Thompson (Michael’s, Santa Monica CA)

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Los Angeles)
Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica CA)
Jessica Koslow (Sqirl, Los Angeles)
Travis Lett (Gjelina, Venice CA)

Part of the dining room at Felix in Venice
Wonho Frank Lee

While it’s true that Los Angeles isn’t represented in some key categories — Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Restaurant — those are often given to legacy names (places and people in business for ten years or more) that have been in the national spotlight since almost day one.

In the Best Chef: West category, the only way Los Angeles won’t take home hardware is if the very deserving Dominique Crenn from San Francisco wins instead. Jeremy Fox and Noah Galuten’s On Vegetables cookbook is also nominated for a media award this year.

The official James Beard Foundation Awards will happen in Chicago on May 7, with the media awards going down in New York City on April 27. For a full list of finalists from across the country, check out the full slate of coverage over at Eater national.