In the 2013 competition for the Oscars of the food world, aka the James Beard Awards, the San Francisco Bay Area is showing its culinary might. In nearly all of the categories recognizing superlative U.S. chefs and restaurants, we have as many or more semifinalists than any other metropolis. The lengthy list of semifinalists, released February 19, was culled from more than 44,000 entries, according to the James Beard Foundation, which administers the annual awards. The awards and foundation are named after the American cookbook author and teacher, who died in 1985.
Finalists will be announced on March 18, 2013. The medals will be given out at a New York gala May 6, which will particularly honor San Francisco chef Cecilia Chiang, 93, winner of the 2013 Beard Lifetime Achievement Award.
Here are the local semifinalists for the Beard Awards. They're in San Francisco unless otherwise noted. We've indicated those who were finalists in 2012 (so perhaps they're more stressed or blasé this time around). And in each category, for comparison purposes, we list other metro areas that boast similar numbers of nominees.
Outstanding Restaurant (20 semifinalists. A national standard-bearer for consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service; must have been in operation for at least 10 consecutive years.)
* Foreign Cinema
* Greens Restaurant
* The Slanted Door
* Terra, St. Helena
Greater Los Angeles (LA, Santa Monica); Chicago; New York City; Washington, D.C.: Two semifinalists each.
Outstanding Chef (20 semifinalists. A working chef who has set national industry standards, inspired other food professionals and has been a chef for at least the past 5 years.)
* Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko [2012 finalist]
* David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos
* Michael Tusk, Quince
NYC; Greater LA: Two semifinalists each.
Rising Star Chef of the Year (27 semifinalists. A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.)
* Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco & NYC [finalist 2012]
* Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water [finalist 2012]
Chicago; Greater Seattle: Three semifinalists each. Philadelphia; Austin, TX; Greater LA: Two semifinalists each.
Outstanding Pastry Chef (20 semifinalists)
* Melissa Chou, Aziza [2012 finalist]
* William Werner, Craftsman and Wolves
NYC: Two semifinalists.
Outstanding Restaurateur (Most of the 20 semifinalists run at least three restaurants each. A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship, has been in the business at least 10 years, and hasn't been nominated for a Beard chef award in the past 10 years.)
*Mark Stark and Terri Stark, Stark Reality Restaurants (Willi's Wine Bar, Monti's Rotisserie & Bar, Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar, etc.), Santa Rosa/Healdsburg
SF didn't do so well here. NYC; Atlanta; Greater LA: Two semifinalists each.
Outstanding Service (20 semifinalists)
* Michael Mina [2012 finalist]
* The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
Philadelphia: Two semifinalists.
Outstanding Bar Program (25 semifinalists. A restaurant with excellence in cocktail, spirit, and/or beer service, including a well-presented drink list, knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about beverages.)
* The Abbot's Cellar
* Bar Agricole [2012 finalist]
NYC; LA; Chicago; Atlanta: Two semifinalists each.
Outstanding Wine Program (20 semifinalists)
* A16 [2012 finalist]
* Press, St. Helena
* Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional (20 semifinalists. A winemaker, brewer, or spirits professional in his/her career at least 5 years who has had significant impact on the wine and spirits industry nationwide.)
* Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery, Sebastopol [2012 finalist]
* Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines, Sebastopol
* Duncan Meyers and Nathan Roberts, Arnot-Roberts, Healdsburg
* Jörg Rupf, St. George Spirits, Alameda
* Burt Williams, founder of Williams Selyem Winery, Healdsburg
Greater NY (NYC, Brooklyn): Three semifinalists. North Carolina: Two.
Best Chef, West (CA, NV, HI) (20 semifinalists. The West is one of 10 U.S. regions delineated by the awards; others include New York City, the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Southeast.)
* Matthew Accarrino, SPQR
* Nicolaus Balla, Bar Tartine
* Chris Cosentino, Incanto [2012 finalist]
* Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn
* Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena [2012 finalist]
* Mourad Lahlou, Aziza
* Corey Lee, Benu
* Daniel Patterson, Coi [2012 finalist]
* Michael Chiarello, Bottega, Yountville [2012 finalist]
Greater LA: Eight semifinalists.