The finalists were announced today for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards, called the Oscars of the food world, which will be given out at a ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York on May 6. Yet again, San Francisco is well represented among the nominees, both in the Western region and in the national food scene, with two local restaurants nominated for Best New Restaurant in the country, and others recognized for their service, wine program, and general greatness.
This year it's most notable that not one but two SF semifinalists made the cut to be nominees for the coveted Best New Restaurant award: Rich Table and State Bird Provisions. Both have garnered tons of local and national press and remain hard to get into, as a result. As criteria for being nominated in the category, new restaurants have to "already display excellence in food, beverage, and service and [be] likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come."
And in the Best Chef in the West category, Daniel Patterson of Coi is becoming the Susan Lucci of these awards (at least in this region), having been a finalist for this prize for four of the last five years without a win. He's joined by three other Bay Area chefs (Christopher Kostow, Corey Lee, and Chris Cosentino), and one chef team from LA, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal.
The Slanted Door is once again nominated in the national category of Outstanding Restaurant, and just last year, another perennial nominee, Boulevard, took home the prize.
Also, local legend Cecilia Chiang, who helped put sophisticated Szechuan and Hunan cooking on the map with her SF restaurant The Mandarin back in the late 1960s, will be honored with a lifetime achievement award this year.
Below, the full list of local nominees, and here you can check out a PDF of the entire list of finalists, including the media and book nominees, and the chef and restaurant nominees from elsewhere in the country.
For those who don't know, James Beard was a renowned author and gastronome who championed native American cuisines at a time when American cooks were only just beginning to learn about French and Italian cooking. He founded two cooking schools in the middle of the last century, in New York City and in his home state of Oregon, and ultimately became known as the 'Dean of American Cuisine.' He was a close personal friend of Julia Child, as well as local figures like Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters, and Marion Cunningham, who once worked as his assistant. He died in 1985, and Child helped the effort to preserve his home as an American culinary center, and to start the James Beard Foundation. To this day, the James Beard House in New York's West Village hosts regular events with chefs from around the country.
Best New Restaurant
Empellón Cocina, NYC
The Ordinary, Charleston, SC
Rich Table, San Francisco
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco and NYC
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water, San Francisco
Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco
Outstanding Bar Program
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Melissa Chou, Aziza, San Francisco
The Slanted Door, San Francisco
Quince, San Francisco
The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
Outstanding Wine Program
A16, San Francisco
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery, Sebastopol
Best Chef: West
Chris Cosentino, Incanto, San Francisco
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
Daniel Patterson, Coi, San Francisco
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles
Jay Barmann is the editor of Grub Street San Francisco.