The James Beard Foundation announced its finalists for the 2022 restaurant awards today, March 16, in Scottsdale, Arizona. After a robust round of semi-finalists was announced earlier this year, only four notable LA chefs and restaurants made it the next round out of all of Los Angeles County — a region with more than 10 million people and north of 30,000 restaurants. Wes Avila’s Angry Egret Dinette, Cassia’s Bryant Ng, Jitlada’s Jazz Singsanong, and Republique’s Margarita Manzke all earned some extra spotlight from the national non-profit culinary arts organization; the winners in each respective category will be announced on June 13 in a live ceremony held in Chicago.
This will be the first James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony since 2019, owing to the ongoing global pandemic that has been so devastating for so much of the restaurant and hospitality world. An anonymous group of judges makes the final calls on semi-finalists, finalists, and ultimately winners in what many describe as the “Oscars of the food world.”
Over the last two years, the JBFA held off on nominations and awards while making efforts to select a more diverse group of chefs and restaurants. In 2022, the JBFA panel did not advance Tony Ho from Sea Harbour Seafood, Phenakite’s Minh Phan, and Taco Maria’s Carlos Salgado from the California Best Chef category. Genever is no longer up for Outstanding Bar Program, while n/naka’s Niki Nakayama did not advance to the finals for Outstanding Chef.
Republique’s Margarita Manzke was nominated in 2020 for Best Pastry Chef and finalist for that same category in 2022. Jitlada owner Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong is up for California’s Best Chef; her brother and longtime chef Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee steered Jitlada’s direction before his death in 2017. Sungkamee’s daughter, chef Sugar Sungkamee presently works in the kitchen with Singsanong.
Sherman Oaks’s Casa Vega received the JBFA’s annual America’s Classics Award this year, which recognizes longstanding independent or family-owned restaurants, alongside five other restaurants from around the country.
Below are Los Angeles’s finest as JBFA finalists:
Best Chef: California
- Bryant Ng, Cassia
- Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong, Jitlada
Best New Restaurant
- Angry Egret Dinette
Outstanding Pastry Chef
- Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
The full list of James Beard Awards finalists are here.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.