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California Tops 2018 James Beard Nominees List

Put these San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Wine Country restaurants on your bucket list for 2018

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Posted 3 years agoby Tina Caputo

California is known around the world as a center of culinary innovation—not to mention the home of some of America’s hottest restaurants—so it’s only fitting that the state has more nominees than any other in this year’s James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards. Out of 57 nominees in national categories, 20 are from California. (The next highest-ranking state, New York, has six nominees.) Regionally, Californians also represent all five contenders for Best Chef in the West.

What is it about California that makes its restaurants and chefs stand out? “I think we have products here that are second to none,” says Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley, one of two California nominees for the Outstanding Chef award. “You also have a lot of competition among all these great chefs and that makes everybody better.”

Winners will be announced at the James Beard Awards Gala—known as the “Oscars of the food world”—on May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The James Beard Foundation, named for one of America’s pioneering food writers and chefs, has been honoring America’s culinary luminaries since 1990.

The following are California’s James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Award nominees—so consider this your restaurant “bucket list” for 2018.

Best New Restaurant
The Charter Oak, St. Helena
Family-style farm-to-table

Felix Trattoria, Venice
California-grown Italian

Kismet, Los Angeles
Modern Middle Eastern

Outstanding Baker
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco
French style meets American flavors

Outstanding Bar Program
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
Modern tavern with stellar spirits

Trick Dog, San Francisco
Playful menu, serious cocktails

Outstanding Chef
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos
Michelin-starred contemporary Californian

Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
Ingredients-driven modern American

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Casual café, killer pastries

Outstanding Restaurant
Quince, San Francisco
Prix fixe perfection, California style

Outstanding Restaurateur
Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group (Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern, and more), Los Angeles

Outstanding Service
Saison, San Francisco
Wild, wood-fired and local

Zuni Café, San Francisco
Classic French and Italian

Outstanding Wine Program
a.o.c., Los Angeles
Pioneering wine bar with small plates

Benu, San Francisco
Wine-focused tasting menus

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena
Classic Cabernet champion

Miljenko Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford
Pioneering Napa Valley vintner

Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa
“Natural wine” guru

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda
Spirits maverick

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Miles Thompson, Michael’s, Santa Monica
Dynamic California cuisine

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Elevated American seafood

Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Artful multi-course dining

Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica
Farmers market inspiration

Jessica Koslow, Sqirl, Los Angeles
Hip café with global flavors

Travis Lett, Gjelina, Venice
Rustic Mediterranean hotspot

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