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Here Are All of Greater LA’s 2023 James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalists

The greater LA region received ample consideration for this year’s coveted JBFA awards, with the winners to be announced in early June

Two chefs in white coats stand side by side inside of a restaurant at daytime.
Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida of n/naka.
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.

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2023 slate of semifinalists for its annual restaurant and chef awards today, January 25. The lineup includes clusters of chef contenders segmented out by region across America — Los Angeles, of course, being in the best chef: California category — as well as national awards like outstanding restaurateur, outstanding chef, and outstanding restaurant. There are also specific awards for hospitality, bar programs, pastry chefs, bakeries, and more, with greater LA names popping up across the semifinalist spectrum. Each name listed below will be winnowed down to a finalist list in the coming months ahead of the James Beard Foundation Award live gala and ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023.

For those unfamiliar, the James Beards are considered to be among the highest US-only honors for restaurant professionals and businesses alike. While Michelin is well known for its high-end stars and the World’s 50 Best tries to take an entirely global approach, the James Beards are seen as meaningful votes of confidence (as judged by food media professionals and other chefs and owners) for American bakers, bartenders, cooks, owners, and lots of other restaurant and hospitality workers in between.

This year’s long list of semifinalists includes more than a few familiar names, including Margarita Manzke — who has repeatedly been nominated in the outstanding pastry chef category, though she has yet to win. Other well-known names include Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, nominated in the best chef: California category, and Niki Nakayama of 10-year-old N/Naka, who is nominated in the overall outstanding chef category.

While the nominations, which stretch from the Central Coast down through Orange County, are themselves meaningful, in the past Los Angeles has been largely shut out of the actual award circle by the JBFA. Big wins have been few and far between for LA in recent years, with a few notable exceptions — like Providence chef Michael Cimarusti’s long overdue 2019 award. Still, the region is certainly flush with winning potential for 2023, and there’s hope for lots of hardware this year. Congratulations to all of the semifinalists.

Disclosures: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Eater LA reporter Mona Holmes is related to Rashida Holmes, but was not involved in this story or the awards selection process with the JBFA.

Katianna and John Hong of Yangban Society standing in their restaurant.
Katianna and John Hong of Yangban Society.
Stan Lee

Best Chef: California

Rocio Camacho, Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen
Gilberto Cetina Jr., Holbox
Brandon Hayato Go, Hayato
Andrew and Michelle Muñoz, Moo’s Craft Barbecue
Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai
Michael Reed, Poppy & Seed, Anaheim
Daisy Ryan, Bell’s, Los Alamos
Carlos Salgado, Taco María
Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong, Jitlada

Outstanding Restaurateur

Greg Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen

Outstanding Chef

Niki Nakayama, N/Naka

Outstanding Restaurant


Emerging Chef

Rashida Holmes

Best New Restaurant

Pijja Palace
Yangban Society

Outstanding Bakery

Friends & Family

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Margarita Manzke, République

Outstanding Hospitality

Here’s Looking at You

Outstanding Wine/Other Beverages


Outstanding Bar

Esters Wine Shop & Bar