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A deep dive into the Beard Foundation semifinalists

A deep dive into this year’s James Beard Awards semifinalists

Efforts toward diversity show mixed results

The James Beard Foundation, in preparation for its annual awards to chefs and restaurateurs as well as to food-related books, designers, journalism, broadcast media and leaders, last year amended its policies and procedures in an effort to be more inclusive and transparent both in who selected the winners and who those winners would be.

A shakeup among judges produced a 14% increase in people of color on the panels and a 5% increase in women, and the foundation issued a strong directive to existing judges to be more inclusive in their selections. 

Preliminary results of those first steps came in with the announcement Wednesday of the long list of semifinalists in the organization’s prestigious Restaurant and Chef Awards. 

The results are mixed.

While there’s a 7% increase in the representation of people of color on the list of 419 chefs, restaurants, restaurateurs and beverage professionals, the representation of women is down to 34% from 40% last year.

However, 2018 was a banner year for women in the Restaurant and Chef Awards: For the first time they won the majority of the awards. Additionally, four African-Americans won awards that year after none in the previous year.

The committees also did marginally better in bringing new faces to the long list.

Excluding the category of Best New Restaurant, which by definition requires that every semifinalist be new, 47% of people and restaurants on the list are returning from last year in the same category, down from 51% last year. That excludes chefs and restaurants that were nominated in a different category from last year, such as Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was a semifinalist for best chef in New York City. She won that award, and this year is a semifinalist in the national category of Outstanding Chef.

Below is a list of all the semifinalists, and a look at how they differ from last year’s group. Names in bold were semifinalists in the same category last year.

Voting is now underway by more than 600 judges, who will select five or six finalists in each category. Voting ends on March 11 and the results will be announced at Hugo’s restaurant in Houston on March 27 at 9 a.m. CDT.

Best New Restaurant

Two of the semifinalists in this category are from the Boston area, up from one last year. Chicago retained its two spots. Both Los Angeles and Washington slipped from three semifinalists to two. New Orleans went from one to two and New York City from two to three. San Francisco, which had no semifinalists last year — the closest being The Charter Oak in St. Helena, Calif. — has two semifinalists this year. Austin, Denver, Detroit, Nashville and Seattle each has one semifinalist this year, as they did from last year.

Adda Indian Canteen, New York City

Andiario, West Chester, Pa.

Angler, San Francisco

Atomix, New York City

Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington, Del.

Bavel, Los Angeles

Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans

Canard, Portland, Ore

Celeste, Somerville, Mass.

Chickadee, Boston

Ellē, Washington, D.C.

The Elysian Bar, New Orleans

Folk, Nashville

Frenchette, New York City

Kyoten, Chicago

Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, Cleveland

Lineage, Wailea, Hawaii

Majordomo, Los Angeles

Marrow, Detroit

Nyum Bai, Oakland, Calif.

Passerotto, Chicago

Petra and the Beast, Dallas

Popol Vuh, Minneapolis

Q House, Denver

Sawyer, Seattle

Spoken English, Washington, D.C.

The Stanley, Charlotte, N.C.

Suerte, Austin

The Surf Club Restaurant, Surfside, Fla.

Vianda, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Outstanding Baker

Just nine of the 20 semifinalists are returning from last year. That’s compared to 14 returnees last year.

Umber Ahmad, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, New York City

Kim Boyce, Bakeshop, Portland, Ore.

Andy Clark, Moxie Bread Co., Louisville, Colo.

Evrim Dogu and Evin Dogu, Sub Rosa Bakery, Richmond, Va.

Tova du Plessis, Essen Bakery, Philadelphia

Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit, New York City

Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Ariz.

Naomi Harris, Madruga Bakery, Coral Gables, Fla.

Stephanie Hart, Brown Sugar Bakery, Chicago

Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge, Mass.

Lisa Ludwinski, Sister Pie, Detroit

Greg Mindel, Neighbor Bakehouse, San Francisco

Taylor Petrehn, 1900 Barker, Lawrence, Kan.

Alison Pray, Standard Baking Co., Portland, Maine

Nathaniel Reid, Nathaniel Reid Bakery, Kirkwood, Mo.

Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos, Calif.

Kit Schumann and Jesse Schumann, Sea Wolf Bakers, Seattle

Debbie Swenerton, Black Bear Bread Co., Grayton Beach, Fla.

Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread, Chicago

Chris Wilkins, Root Baking Co., Atlanta 

Outstanding Bar Program

A lot of new names are on the list, with just seven returnees, compared to 12 last year.

Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston

The Atomic Lounge, Birmingham, Ala.

The Baldwin Bar, Woburn, Mass.

Bar Agricole, San Francisco

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee

Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore

Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.

Dead Rabbit, New York City

Expatriate, Portland, Ore.

Kimball House, Decatur, Ga.

La Factoría, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Leyenda, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lost Lake, Chicago

The Monarch Bar, Kansas City, Mo.

Monk’s Café, Philadelphia

No Anchor, Seattle

Old Lightning, Marina Del Rey, Calif.

Planter’s House, St. Louis

Saint Leo, Oxford, Miss.

Outstanding Chef

At first glance, with just eight out of 20 semifinalists returning from last year, this looks like a shakeup in what is basically a lifetime achievement award. But most of these chefs have already won the award for best chef in their region and have just been promoted to this category, and several, such as Ana Sortun and Marc Vetri, have been semifinalists in this category many times; they just weren’t last year.

An exception is Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale, Ariz. Although she has achieved local acclaim, this is her first time as a James Beard Foundation semifinalist.

Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, N.C.

Renee Erickson, Bateau, Seattle

Colby Garrelts, Bluestem, Kansas City, Mo.

Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago

Shiro Kashiba, Sushi Kashiba, Seattle

David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif.

Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.

Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco

Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans

Margot McCormack, Margot Café & Bar, Nashville

Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, Wis.

Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, N.J.

Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Chrysa Robertson, Rancho Pinot, Scottsdale, AZ

Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore.

Chris Shepherd, Georgia James, Houston

Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge, Mass.

Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.

Fabio Trabocchi, Fiola, Washington, D.C.

Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Eight out of the 20 nominees are returning from last year, although others have been semifinalists, and even finalists, in the past, including Juan Contrearas, Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Pichet Ong.

Jeb Breakell, The Wolf’s Tailor, Denver

Ashley Capps, Buxton Hall, Asheville, N.C.

Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Kelly Fields, Willa Jean, New Orleans

Meg Galus, Boka, Chicago

Megan Garrelts, Rye, Leawood, Kan.

Zoe Kanan, Simon & the Whale, New York City

Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu

Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles

James Matty, Suraya, Philadelphia

Junko Mine, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, Wash.

Diane Moua, Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis

Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters, Washington, D.C.

Natasha Pickowicz, Flora Bar, New York City

Michelle Polzine, 20th Century Café, San Francisco

Rabii Saber, Four Seasons Resort, Orlando, Fla,

Ricardo “Ricchi” Sanchez, Bullion, Dallas

Laura Sawicki, Launderette, Austin

Whang Suh, Hen & Heifer, Guilford, Conn.

Cynthia Wong, Life Raft Treats, Charleston, S.C.

Outstanding Restaurant 

Similar to the Outstanding Chef category, this is also sort of a lifetime achievement award, and it also has seen a shakeup from last year, with just six returnees, but Cafe Juanita, Fore Street, Nopa and Sagami all were semifinalists in this category in 2017, and others, such as Fig and Park’s Barbeque, have been nominated in other categories. Some of these are true newcomers and notably more casual than the fine-dining restaurants that normally dominate this category, including El Charro Café, the Original Ninfa’s and SriPraPhai. That could be a sign of a movement toward more inclusiveness in the Beard Awards.

Balthazar, New York City

Bolete, Bethlehem, Pa.

Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, Wash.

El Charro Café, Tucson, Ariz.

Fig, Charleston, S.C.

Fore Street, Portland, Maine

Jaleo, Washington, D.C.

Komi, Washington, D.C.

Marché, Eugene, Ore.

Nopa, San Francisco

Norman’s, Orlando, Fla.

North Pond, Chicago

O Ya, Boston

Original Ninfa's on Navigation, Houston

Park’s Barbeque, Los Angeles

Quince, San Francisco

Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis

Sagami, Collingswood, N.J.

SriPraPhai, Woodside, N.Y.

Zahav, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurateur

Eleven out of 20 are returnees, compared to 14 out of 20 last year. In the inclusiveness category would be Jason Wang of fast-casual Chinese chain Xi’an Famous Foods. Orlando operators, often overlooked in the Beard Awards, are represented by the Swine Family Restaurant Group.

Hugh Acheson, Atlanta

Paul Bartolotta and Joe Bartolotta, The Bartolotta Restaurants, Milwaukee

JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline, New Orleans

Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik, Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, Pittsburgh

Benjamin Goldberg and Max Goldberg, Strategic Hospitality, Nashville

Ruth Gresser, Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, D.C.

Martha Hoover, Patachou Inc., Indianapolis

Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm, Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago

Ed Kenney, Honolulu

Brenda Langton and Timothy Kane, Spoonriver, Minneapolis

Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, San Francisco

Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom, Portland, Ore.

Ken Oringer, Boston

Steve Palmer, The Indigo Road, Charleston, S.C.

Julie Petrakis and James Petrakis, Swine Family Restaurant Group, Orlando, Fla.

Alex Raij and Eder Montero, New York City

Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Seattle

Tracy Vaught, H Town Restaurant Group, Houston

Jason Wang, Xi'an Famous Foods, New York City

Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group, Philadelphia

Outstanding Service

Eight out of 20 are returnees from last year, but several others have made it to this list in the past. Notable genuine newcomers include very casual and inexpensive Birrieria Zaragoza in Chicago and soul food restaurant Mama J’s in Richmond, Va.

Back Bay Grill, Portland, Maine

Birrieria Zaragoza, Chicago

Brigtsen’s, New Orleans

Canlis, Seattle

Chef Vola’s, Atlantic City, N.J.

Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colo.

The French Room, Dallas

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago

Hugo’s, Houston

Kai Restaurant, Chandler, Ariz.

Kimball House, Decatur, Ga.

Mama J’s, Richmond, Va.

Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.

n/naka, Los Angeles

Peking Gourmet Inn, Falls Church, Va.

Saison, San Francisco

Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco

Tony’s, Houston

Victoria & Albert’s, Orlando, Fla.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Ann Arbor, MI

Outstanding Wine Program

Similar to the Outstanding Service category, although just six out of these 20 were long-listed last year, many have been listed in this or other Beard Award categories in the past. However, this is the first time that haley.henry, Income Tax, L’Oursin, Ops or Tail Up Goat have been semifinalists in any category, 

Bacchanal, New Orleans

The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis

Bar Marco, Pittsburgh

Benu, San Francisco

The Butcher Shop, Boston

Cote, NYC

element 47 at the Little Nell, Aspen, Colo.

Great China, Berkeley, CA

Davenport, Portland, Ore.

haley.henry, Boston

Income Tax, Chicago

L’Oursin, Seattle

Lucky Palace, Bossier City, La.

Miller Union, Atlanta

Night + Market, Los Angeles

Ops, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse at the Galleria, Houston

Spiaggia, Chicago

Stems & Skins, North Charleston, S.C.

Tail Up Goat, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Producer

The name of this category has been changed slightly, from Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional, but there are actually more returnees this year than last year — 11 compared to eight. Yoshihiro Sako is the first sake brewer to be acknowledged in this category.

An Bui, Mekong and The Answer Brewpub, Richmond, Va.

Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena, Calif.

Rutger de Vink, RdV Vineyards, Delaplane, Va.

Dave Green, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, Wash.

Deirdre Heekin, La Garagista, Bethel, Vt.

Nancy Irelan, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Penn Yan, N.Y.

Drew Kulsveen, Willett Distillery, Bardstown, Ky.

Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold, Leopold Bros., Denver

Sean Lilly Wilson, Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, N.C.

Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell, High Wire Distilling Co., Charleston, S.C.

Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa, Calif.

Kim McPherson, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas

Meredith Meyer Grelli, Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh

Yoshihiro Sako, Den Sake Brewery, Oakland, Calif.

Jordan Salcito, Ramona, New York City

Mike Sauer, Red Willow Vineyard, Wapato, Wash.

Jeffrey Stuffings, Jester King Brewery, Austin

Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, Maine

Mhairi Voelsgen, broVo Spirits, Woodinville, Wash.

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, Calif.

Rising Star Chef of the Year

This category has natural churn, as winners have to be aged 30 or younger. Still, just seven of the 23 semifinalists are returning from last year, compared to 15 out of 27 last year. The rest have never before been acknowledged by the Beard Awards committees.

Rachel Bennett, The Library, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jay Blackinton, Aelder/Hogstone’s Wood Oven, Orcas Island, Wash.

Nick Bognar, Nippon Tei, St. Louis

Ana Castro, Coquette, New Orleans

Valerie Chang and Nando Chang, Itamae, Miami

Calvin Davis, Freshwater, Kansas City, Mo.

Alisha Elenz, MFK, Chicago

Evan Gaudreau, Renzo, Charleston, S.C.

Rikki Giambruno, Hyacinth, St. Paul, Minn.

Becca Hegarty, Bitter Ends Luncheonette, Pittsburgh

Alexander Hong, Sorrel, San Francisco

Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia

Irene Li, Mei Mei, Boston

Giselle Miller, Menton, Boston

Shota Nakajima, Adana, Seattle

Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin, Washington, D.C.

Ian Redshaw, Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria, Charlottesville, Va.

Jonathan “Jonny” Rhodes, Restaurant Indigo, Houston

Samantha Sanz, Talavera at the Four Seasons, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Lena Sareini, Selden Standard, Detroit

Cassie Shortino, Tratto, Phoenix

Nolan Wynn, Banshee, Atlanta

Jonathan Yao, Kato, Los Angeles

Best Chef: Great Lakes (Ill., Ind., Mich. and Ohio)

Detroit is the big story here. That metropolitan area went from two semifinalists last year to five this year. Chicago still dominated with 11 chefs, down from 13.

Thai Dang and Danielle Dang, HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen, Chicago

Diana Dávila, Mi Tocaya Antojería, Chicago

Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago

Norberto Garita, El Barzon, Detroit

Jason Hammel, Lula Café, Chicago

Brian Jupiter, Frontier, Chicago

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute, Chicago

Anthony Lombardo, SheWolf, Detroit

Abbi Merriss, Bluebeard, Indianapolis

Ethan Pikas, Cellar Door Provisions, Chicago

David Posey and Anna Posey, Elske, Chicago

Iliana Regan, Kitsune, Chicago

James Rigato, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, Mich.

Jose Salazar, Mita’s, Cincinnati

Noah Sandoval, Oriole, Chicago

Steven Oakley, Oakleys Bistro, Indianapolis

Genevieve Vang, Bangkok 96, Dearborn, Mich.

Jill Vedaa, Salt, Lakewood, Ohio

Kate Williams, Lady of the House, Detroit

Lee Wolen, Boka, Chicago 

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (Del., Md., N.J., Pa., Va. and Washington, D.C.)

The Mid-Atlanta had 10 newcomers to the list this year. The District of Columbia continued to dominate with eight semifinalists this year, up from seven in 2018.

Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, N.J.

Sandeep “Sunny” Baweja, Lehja, Richmond, Va.

Jamilka Borges, The Independent Brewing Co., Pittsburgh

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.

Erik Bruner-Yang, Brothers and Sisters, Washington, D.C.

Kristin Butterworth, Lautrec, Farmington, Pa.

Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint, Washington, D.C.

Nicholas Elmi, Laurel, Philadelphia

Randy Forrester, Osteria Radici, Allentown, N.J.

Jerome Grant, Sweet Home Café, Washington, D.C.

Haidar Karoum, Chloë, Washington, D.C.

Matthew Kern, Heirloom, Lewes, DE

Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia

Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia

Dan Richer, Razza Pizza Artigianale, Jersey City, N.J.

Jon Sybert, Tail Up Goat, Washington, D.C.

Kevin Tien, Himitsu, Washington, D.C.

Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore

Nobu Yamazaki, Sushi Taro, Washington, D.C.

Wei Zhu, Chengdu Gourmet, Pittsburgh 

Best Chef: Midwest (Iowa, Kan., Minn., Mo., Neb., N.D., S.D. and Wis.)

Nine out of 20 semifinalists are returning from last year, the same number as in 2018. Minneapolis picked up another spot, with seven chefs on the list. Kansas City jumped from one to three, tying it with Milwaukee. St. Louis retained four spots and Omaha, Neb., has a newcomer: Tim Nicholson of The Boiler Room, who was a semifinalist for Rising Star in 2017 and 2018.

Dane Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee

Karen Bell, Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee

Thomas Boemer, In Bloom, Minneapolis

Steven Brown, Tilia, Minneapolis

Michael Corvino, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, Mo.

Daniel del Prado, Martina, Minneapolis

Linda Duerr, The Restaurant at 1900, Mission Woods, Kan.

Michael Gallina, Vicia, St. Louis

Nicholas Goellner, The Antler Room, Kansas City, Mo.

Jonny Hunter, Forequarter, Madison, Wis.

Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv, Milwaukee

Ann Kim, Young Joni, Minneapolis

Lona Luo, Lona’s Lil Eats, St. Louis

Jamie Malone, Grand Café, Minneapolis

Jesse Mendica, Olive + Oak, Webster Groves, Mo.

Tim Nicholson, The Boiler Room, Omaha, Neb.

Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis

Karyn Tomlinson, Corner Table, Minneapolis

Joe Tripp, Harbinger, Des Moines, Iowa

Ny Vongsaly, Billie-Jean, Clayton, Mo.

Best Chef: New York (Five Boroughs)

With 11 out of 20 restaurants being newcomers, the borough breakdown remains the same, with 14 from Manhattan, five from Brooklyn and one from Queens. The awards committee continues to expand its appreciation for Asian cuisines with newcomer Insa serving Korean barbecue, Win Son specializing in Taiwanese food and Kopitiam offering Malaysian.

Cosme Aguilar, Casa Enrique

Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit

Rawia Bishara, Tanoreen, Brooklyn

Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy

Billy Durney, Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn

Sean Gray, Momofuku Ko

Brooks Headley, Superiority Burger

Joseph “JJ” Johnson, Henry at Life Hotel

Sohui Kim, Insa, Brooklyn

Josh Ku and Trigg Brown, Win Son, Brooklyn

Angie Mar, Beatrice Inn

Kyo Pang, Kopitiam

Erik Ramirez, Llama Inn, Brooklyn

Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, Uncle Boons

Daniela Soto-Innes, Atla

Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske, Wildair

Alex Stupak, Empellón Midtown

Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito, Don Angie

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, Via Carota

Helen You, Dumpling Galaxy, Flushing, N.Y. 

Best Chef: Northeast (Conn., Mass., Maine, New York state, R.I. and Vt.)

With just one large city in the region, you’d think Boston would dominate this list, but just six out of 20 chefs are located in that metropolitan area. Portland, Maine., jumped from two to three semifinalists; Providence, R.I., retained its two; and two chefs from Portsmouth, N.H., made the list, too. The committee also didn’t ignore Maine’s mid-coast.

Unmi Abkin, Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton, Mass.

Tyler Anderson, Millwright's, Simsbury, Conn.

Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo, Lil' Deb's Oasis, Hudson, N.Y.

Cara Chigazola-Tobin, Honey Road, Burlington, Vt.

Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell, Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine

Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House, North Yarmouth, Maine

Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot, Portland, Maine

Carl Dooley, The Table at Season to Taste, Cambridge, Mass.

Tiffani Faison, Tiger Mama, Boston

Erin French, The Lost Kitchen, Freedom, Maine

Victor Parra Gonzalez, Las Puertas, Buffalo, N.Y.

Seizi Imura, Cafe Sushi, Cambridge, Mass.

Evan Mallett, Black Trumpet, Portsmouth, N.H.

James Mark, North, Providence, R.I.

Tony Messina, Uni, Boston

Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, Mass.

Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki's Sushi Bar, Rockland, Maine

Benjamin Sukle, Oberlin, Providence, R.I.

Peter Ungár, Tasting Counter, Somerville, Mass.

David Vargas, Vida Cantina, Portsmouth, N.H.

Best Chef: Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Mont., Ore., Wash. and Wyo.)

With 11 newcomers, this area is dominated by Portland, Ore., with eight nominees and Seattle with seven. That evens the scales a bit from last year, when Seattle had six and Portland had nine. Brady Williams of Canlis, who is a newcomer in this category, won the Rising Star award in 2017.

Jose Chesa, Ataula, Portland, Ore.

Peter Cho, Han Oak, Portland, Ore.

Laura Cole, 229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern, Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Logan Cox, Homer, Seattle

Alejandro Cruz, Novo Modern Latin Table, Eugene, Ore.

Eric Donnelly, RockCreek, Seattle

Gregory Gourdet, Departure, Portland, Ore.

Eric Johnson, Stateside, Seattle

Taichi Kitamura, Sushi Kappo Tamura, Seattle

Ha (Christina) Luu and Peter Vuong, Ha VL, Portland, Ore.

Katy Millard, Coquine, Portland, Ore.

Kristen Murray, Måurice, Portland, Ore.

Colin Patterson, Mana Restaurant, Leavenworth, Wash.

Ryan Roadhouse, Nodoguro, Portland, Ore.

Beau Schooler, In Bocca Al Lupo, Juneau, Alaska

Mutsuko Soma, Kamonegi, Seattle

Dave Wells, The Dining Room at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Mont.

Brady Williams, Canlis, Seattle

Justin Woodward, Castagna, Portland, Ore.

Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle

Best Chef: South (Ala., Ark., Fla., La., Miss. and Puerto Rico)

With 14 out of 20 chefs returning, New Orleans lost a couple of spots, down to five from seven, with some newcomers from smaller communities like Jackson, Miss., and Ocean Springs, Miss.

Lindsay Autry, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach, Fla.

David Bancroft, Acre, Auburn, Ala.

Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, Miss.

Bill Briand, Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina, Orange Beach, Ala.

Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach, Fla

Alex Eaton, The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, Jackson, Miss.

Jose Enrique, Jose Enrique, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette, New Orleans

Maria Mercedes Grubb, Gallo Negro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Michael Gulotta, Maypop, New Orleans

Mason Hereford, Turkey and the Wolf, New Orleans

Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, Ala.

Brad Kilgore, Alter, Miami

Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Miami

Matthew McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, Ark.

Alex Perry, Vestige, Ocean Springs, Miss.

Jeannie Pierola, Edison: Food+Drink Lab, Tampa, Fla.

Slade Rushing, Brennan’s, New Orleans

Melissa Donahue-Talmage, Sweet Melissa’s Café, Sanibel, Fla.

Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast (Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C., Tenn. and W.Va.)

With 10 newcomers in this region, the breakdown remains the same with a lot of chefs coming from smaller communities or lesser-represented cities such as Chattanooga, Tenn., and Greenville, S.C.

Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Ga.

Rebecca Barron, St. John’s Restaurant, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Jon Buck, Husk Greenville, Greenville, S.C.

Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, N.C.

Gregory Collier, Loft & Cellar, Charlotte, N.C.

Cassidee Dabney, The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.

Steven Devereaux Greene, Herons, Cary, N.C.

Oscar Diaz, The Cortez, Raleigh, N.C.

Bryan Furman, B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, Atlanta

Josh Habiger, Bastion, Nashville

Meherwan Irani, Chai Pani, Asheville, N.C.

Kevin Johnson, The Grocery, Charleston, S.C.

Joe Kindred, Kindred, Davidson, N.C.

Cheetie Kumar, Garland, Raleigh, N.C.

Jacques Larson, The Obstinate Daughter, Sullivan’s Island, S.C.

Dean Neff, PinPoint, Wilmington, N.C.

Ryan Smith, Staplehouse, Atlanta

Brian So, Spring, Marietta, Ga.

Julia Sullivan, Henrietta Red, Nashville

Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis 

Best Chef, Southwest (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla., Texas and Utah)

With 11 out of 20 chefs returning this year, Austin picked up two new spots, giving it a total of five. Followed by Phoenix/Scottsdale with four and Houston down to three from five last year. Denver has two semifinalists, down from three last year, and Dallas also has two, up from one.

Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s Restaurant, Phoenix

Jen Castle and Blake Spalding, Hell's Backbone Grill, Boulder, Utah

Bruno Davaillon, Bullion, Dallas

Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin

Kevin Fink, Emmer & Rye, Austin

Michael Fojtasek, Olamaie, Austin

Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin

Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora, Colo.

Nadia Holguin, Roland’s Cafe Market Bar, Phoenix

Ronnie Killen, Killen’s Steakhouse, Pearland, Texas

Kaiser Lashkari, Himalaya, Houston

Steve McHugh, Cured, San Antonio

Trong Nguyen, Crawfish & Noodles, Houston

Jonathan Perno, Campo at Los Poblanos, Albuquerque, N.M.

Maribel Rivero, Yuyo, Austin

Regino Rojas, Purépecha Room by Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas 

Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café Gran Reserva, Phoenix

David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas

Kelly Whitaker, The Wolf’s Tailor, Denver

Best Chef: West (Calif., Hawaii and Nev.)

The rivalry between the Bay Area and Los Angeles plays out annually in this category, and this year they split positions evenly with seven apiece (last year L.A. had eight and the San Francisco area had seven). San Diego had zero nominations last year, but Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins of El Jardin in that city has put an end to that. 

Genet Agonafer, Meals by Genet, Los Angeles

Reem Assil, Reem’s California, Oakland, Calif.

Gabriela Cámara, Cala, San Francisco

Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles

Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, Calif.

Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, Senia, Honolulu

Matthew Kammerer, Harbor House Inn, Elk, Calif.

Jessica Koslow, Sqirl, Los Angeles

Brandon Rodgers and Ian Scaramuzza, In Situ, San Francisco

Travis Lett, Gjelina, Venice, Calif.

Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles

Dominica Rice-Cisneros, Cosecha Café, Oakland, Calif.

Carlos Salgado, Taco María, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Joshua Skenes, Saison, San Francisco

Sheridan Su, Flock and Fowl, Las Vegas

James Syhabout, Commis, Oakland, Calif.

Karen Taylor, El Molino Central, Sonoma, Calif.

Pim Techamuanvivit, Kin Khao, San Francisco

Kris Yenbamroong, Night + Market, Los Angeles

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, El Jardín, San Diego


Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Correction: March 01, 2019
This story has been updated to reflect that Sean Lilly Wilson and the team of Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell were semifinalists last year as well.
TAGS: People Owners
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