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Here Are the Semifinalists for America’s Oscars of the Food World

The first James Beard Award nominees since the foundation overhauled its voting body.

Ashley Christensen Photo: courtesy Johnny Autry

There are a lot of food awards begging for your attention and desiring to be the “Oscars of food”–like last week’s first ever World Restaurant Awards–but in America, that distinction largely falls on the James Beard Awards. And as the actual Oscars awards season has wound down, it’s time to kick food one into high gear. Today, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2019 awards.

This will be the first awards since the foundation revamped its voting body to encourage a more diverse pool of nominees. Historically, the people who voted for James Beard Awards were predominantly male and white. And not coincidentally, so were many of the winners over the years. The foundation is remedying this by mandating the judging panel’s makeup would reflect the country’s diversity, using the U.S. Census as a guide.

Even before the changes to the judging went into effect, it seemed the Beard Awards were already undergoing a pretty major shift. The #metoo movement had brought forward allegations of misconduct from famed chefs and restaurateurs like John Besh, Mario Batali, and Ken Friedman. In it’s wake, the industry seemed to take a long look in the mirror about what it valued and appeared ready for new leadership. Subsequently, last year’s awards had more female winners than men for the first time and had the highest number of people of color take home medals. The change in rules will only further cement that the people who receive awards will reflect the diversity of the restaurant industry.

On March 27, the James Beard Foundation will broadcast live from Hugo’s restaurant in Houston to reveal the five finalists in each category.

Best New Restaurant

  • Adda Indian Canteen, NYC
  • Andiario, West Chester, PA
  • Angler, San Francisco
  • Atomix, NYC
  • Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington, DE
  • Bavel, Los Angeles
  • Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans
  • Canard, Portland, OR
  • Celeste, Somerville, MA
  • Chickadee, Boston
  • Ellē, Washington, D.C.
  • The Elysian Bar, New Orleans
  • Folk, Nashville
  • Frenchette, NYC
  • Kyoten, Chicago
  • Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, Cleveland
  • Lineage, Wailea, HI
  • Majordomo, Los Angeles
  • Marrow, Detroit
  • Nyum Bai, Oakland, CA
  • Passerotto, Chicago
  • Petra and the Beast, Dallas
  • Popol Vuh, Minneapolis
  • Q House, Denver
  • Sawyer, Seattle
  • Spoken English, Washington, D.C.
  • The Stanley, Charlotte, NC
  • Suerte, Austin
  • The Surf Club Restaurant, Surfside, FL
  • Vianda, San Juan, PR

Outstanding Baker

  • Umber Ahmad, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, NYC
  • Kim Boyce, Bakeshop, Portland, OR
  • Andy Clark, Moxie Bread Co., Louisville, CO
  • Evrim Dogu and Evin Dogu, Sub Rosa Bakery, Richmond, VA
  • Tova du Plessis, Essen Bakery, Philadelphia
  • Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit, NYC
  • Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ
  • Naomi Harris, Madruga Bakery, Coral Gables, FL
  • Stephanie Hart, Brown Sugar Bakery, Chicago
  • Maura Kilpatrick, Sofra Bakery and Café, Cambridge, MA
  • Lisa Ludwinski, Sister Pie, Detroit
  • Greg Mindel, Neighbor Bakehouse, San Francisco
  • Taylor Petrehn, 1900 Barker, Lawrence, KS
  • Alison Pray, Standard Baking Co., Portland, ME
  • Nathaniel Reid, Nathaniel Reid Bakery, Kirkwood, MO
  • Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread, Los Gatos, CA
  • Kit Schumann and Jesse Schumann, Sea Wolf Bakers, Seattle
  • Debbie Swenerton, Black Bear Bread Co., Grayton Beach, FL
  • Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread, Chicago
  • Chris Wilkins, Root Baking Co., Atlanta

Outstanding Bar Program

  • Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston
  • The Atomic Lounge, Birmingham, AL
  • The Baldwin Bar, Woburn, MA
  • Bar Agricole, San Francisco
  • Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee
  • Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore
  • Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.
  • Dead Rabbit, NYC
  • Expatriate, Portland, OR
  • Kimball House, Decatur, GA
  • La Factoría, San Juan, PR
  • Leyenda, Brooklyn, NY
  • Lost Lake, Chicago
  • The Monarch Bar, Kansas City, MO
  • Monk’s Café, Philadelphia
  • No Anchor, Seattle
  • Old Lightning, Marina Del Rey, CA
  • Planter’s House, St. Louis
  • Saint Leo, Oxford, MS
  • Ticonderoga Club, Atlanta 

Outstanding Chef

  • Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC
  • Renee Erickson, Bateau, Seattle
  • Colby Garrelts, Bluestem, Kansas City, MO
  • Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago
  • Shiro Kashiba, Sushi Kashiba, Seattle
  • David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
  • Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
  • Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
  • Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
  • Margot McCormack, Margot Café & Bar, Nashville
  • Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, WI
  • Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJ
  • Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn, NY
  • Chrysa Robertson, Rancho Pinot, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR
  • Chris Shepherd, Georgia James, Houston
  • Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge, MA
  • Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
  • Fabio Trabocchi, Fiola, Washington, D.C.
  • Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia

Outstanding Pastry Chef

  • Jeb Breakell, The Wolf’s Tailor, Denver
  • Ashley Capps, Buxton Hall, Asheville, NC
  • Juan Contreras, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
  • Kelly Fields, Willa Jean, New Orleans
  • Meg Galus, Boka, Chicago
  • Megan Garrelts, Rye, Leawood, KS
  • Zoe Kanan, Simon & the Whale, NYC
  • Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu
  • Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
  • James Matty, Suraya, Philadelphia
  • Junko Mine, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
  • Diane Moua, Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis
  • Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters, Washington, D.C.
  • Natasha Pickowicz, Flora Bar, NYC
  • Michelle Polzine, 20th Century Café, San Francisco
  • Rabii Saber, Four Seasons Resort, Orlando, FL
  • Ricardo “Ricchi” Sanchez, Bullion, Dallas
  • Laura Sawicki, Launderette, Austin
  • Whang Suh, Hen & Heifer, Guilford, CT
  • Cynthia Wong, Life Raft Treats, Charleston, SC

Outstanding Restaurant

  • Balthazar, NYC
  • Bolete, Bethlehem, PA
  • Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
  • El Charro Café, Tucson, AZ
  • FIG, Charleston, SC
  • Fore Street, Portland, ME
  • Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
  • Komi, Washington, D.C.
  • Marché, Eugene, OR
  • Nopa, San Francisco
  • Norman’s, Orlando, FL
  • North Pond, Chicago
  • O Ya, Boston
  • The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, Houston
  • Park’s BBQ, Los Angeles
  • Quince, San Francisco
  • Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis
  • Sagami, Collingswood, NJ
  • SriPraPhai, NYC
  • Zahav, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Hugh Acheson, Atlanta (Empire State South, Five & Ten, The National, and others)
  • Paul Bartolotta and Joe Bartolotta, The Bartolotta Restaurants, Milwaukee (Ristorante Bartolotta, Harbor House, Lake Park Bistro, and others)
  • JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline, New Orleans
  • Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik, Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, Pittsburgh (Poulet Bleu, Fish nor Fowl, Butcher and the Rye, and others)
  • Benjamin Goldberg and Max Goldberg, Strategic Hospitality, Nashville (The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Henrietta Red, and others)
  • Ruth Gresser, Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, D.C. (Pizzeria Paradiso, Birreria Paradiso)
  • Martha Hoover, Patachou Inc., Indianapolis (Café Patachou, Petite Chou, Public Greens, and others)
  • Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm, Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago (Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and others)
  • Ed Kenney, Honolulu (Town, Mud Hen Water, Mahina & Sun’s, and others)
  • Brenda Langton and Timothy Kane, Spoonriver, Minneapolis
  • Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, San Francisco (Mission Chinese Food, The Perennial, Commonwealth)
  • Akkapong (Earl) Ninsom, Portland, OR (Langbaan, Hat Yai, PaaDee, and others)
  • Ken Oringer, Boston (Little Donkey, Toro, Uni, and others)
  • Steve Palmer, The Indigo Road, Charleston, SC (The Macintosh, Oak Steakhouse, Indaco, and others)
  • Julie Petrakis and James Petrakis, Swine Family Restaurant Group, Orlando, FL (The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder, The Polite Pig, and others)
  • Alex Raij and Eder Montero, NYC (La Vara, Txikito, Saint Julivert Fisherie, and others)
  • Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Seattle (Ballard Pizza Co., Bramling Cross, Cortina, and others)
  • Tracy Vaught, H Town Restaurant Group, Houston (Hugo’s, Caracol, Xochi, and others)
  • Jason Wang, Xi’an Famous Foods, NYC
  • Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group, Philadelphia (Fork, High Street on Market, High Street on Hudson)

Outstanding Service

  • Back Bay Grill, Portland, ME
  • Birrieria Zaragoza, Chicago
  • Brigtsen’s, New Orleans
  • Canlis, Seattle
  • Chef Vola’s, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, CO
  • The French Room, Dallas
  • Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago
  • Hugo’s, Houston

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