James Beard Foundation Announces 2018 Chef and Restaurant Finalists

Dominique Crenn is a finalist in Best Chef: West, The Charter Oak is a contender for Best New Restaurant, and more.

In mid-February, the James Beard Foundation released its list of 2018 semifinalists in all 12 chef and restaurant categories, and the San Francisco Bay Area was as well-represented as you’d expect. Among the perennial favorites, there were a few notable standouts, both in terms of recognizing new talent (Reem Assil of Reem’s California) and some delightfully unexpected selections (Koi Palace) that revealed they roam widely and listen well.

Today JBF announced the semifinalists, and in the winnowing, the Bay Area came out on top in some categories (four out of five in Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional) and lacks any remaining representation in others (Outstanding Pastry Chef). See the full list here, and the Bay Area’s finalists below. The award ceremony will be held at the Lyric Opera in Chicago on Monday, May 7.

Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

The Charter Oak, St. Helena

Outstanding Baker 
A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries, or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco

Outstanding Bar Program 
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits, and/or beer service.

Bar Agricole, San Francisco

Trick Dog, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef 
A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.

David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos

Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena

Outstanding Restaurant 

A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.

Quince, San Francisco

Outstanding Service
A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.

Saison, San Francisco

Zuni Café, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine Program A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.

Benu, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
A beer, wine, or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry. 

Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena

Miljenko Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford

Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.

Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francsico


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