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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

James Beard Awards Announce Semifinalists: Bay Area's Well Represented, Obviously

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 8:54 AM


The day has come for the James Beard Foundation to announce the semifinalists for the 2012 Restaurant Awards. As SFoodie has written before, the finals can resemble the Oscars in that they're often career awards rather than a measure of how the nominees are performing at this very moment. That's why the list of semifinalists, for us, is the one we enjoy reading through the most. It measures the esteem of thousands upon thousands of ballots from diners and food media alike, and is worth consulting every time you travel out of state.

This year, the two most interesting competitions are the Rising Star Chef Award (recognizing chefs under the age of 30) and the Pacific regional competition (California and Hawaii). More than ever before, the 2012 list of semifinalists, in particular, zeroes in on chefs in LA and San Francisco who are practicing the New California Cuisine -- technically intricate and sometimes daring cuisine that's just as seasonal and local as food from the chefs' forebears.

Here is the full list of Bay Area and wine country semifinalists. You can find the full list [in PDF form] on the James Beard Foundation's website.

Best New Restaurant


Park Tavern

Outstanding Bar Program

Bar Agricole


Outstanding Chef

Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko

David Kinch, Manresa (Los Gatos)

Charles Phan, The Slanted Door

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Melissa Chou, Aziza

Lisa Lu, Jardinière

Outstanding Restaurant


Foreign Cinema

Terra (St. Helena)

Outstanding Restaurateur

Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal and Doug Washington, Stock & Bones (Town Hall, Salt House, etc.)

Outstanding Service

Cyrus (Healdsburg)

Michael Mina


Outstanding Wine Program



Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional

Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol)

David Hirsch, Hirsch Vineyards (Cazadero)

Jörg Rupf, St. George Spirits

Abe Schoener, The Scholium Project (Napa)

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food

Preston Clark, El Paseo

Aaron London, formerly of Ubuntu (Napa)

Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water

Best Chef, Pacific

Matthew Accarrino, SPQR

Michael Chiarello, Bottega (Yountville)

Chris Cosentino, Incanto

Loretta Keller, CoCo500

Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena)

Mourad Lahlou, Aziza

Corey Lee, Benu

Daniel Patterson, Coi

Richard Reddington, Redd (Yountville)

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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