Which Bay Area chefs, restaurants are James Beard Award finalists?

 mercurynews.com  3/14/2018 3:57:20 PM   Linda Zavoral

A who’s who of Bay Area chefs, restaurants, bakers, bars and winemakers were named finalists for 2018 James Beard Foundation awards on Wednesday, with Wine Country chef Christopher Kostow nabbing two key nominations.

Kostow, of The Restaurant at Meadowood, and chef-owner David Kinch, of Manresa in Los Gatos, both got a nomination for one of the most coveted awards, Outstanding Chef. Both were finalists last year.

Kostow’s new venture, The Charter Oak in St. Helena, also is a finalist for Best New Restaurant.

San Francisco’s Dominique Crenn, of the two-Michelin-star Atelier Crenn, is a finalist for Best Chef in the West.

And two San Francisco restaurants, Zuni Cafe and Saison, are among five in the United States nominated for Outstanding Service.

The awards, considered the Oscars of the culinary world, will be announced May 7 in Chicago.

Here are highlights of the Bay Area nominations:

Outstanding Chef: Kinch and Kostow will go up against Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans, Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in New York City and Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina. Christensen is the only new name in the category; Link and Hamilton were finalists last year.

Best New Restaurant: The Charter Oak in St. Helena is vying for this title against two Southern California restaurants (Kismet in Los Angeles, Felix Trattoria in Venice), one Seattle one (JuneBaby) and one New York one (Empellon Midtown).

Outstanding Restaurant: For the second year, San Francisco’s Quince is among the finalists. This award honors restaurants that have consistently shown excellence in food, atmosphere and service for 10 years or more.

Outstanding Service: San Francisco’s iconic Zuni Cafe will go up against the city’s Saison and three other U.S. restaurants for the award that honors a business that “demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.”

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional: Four Bay Area professionals dominate this finalist list of five. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich’s claim to fame is making the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that beat the best French white Burgundies at the Judgment of Paris in 1976. His competition includes Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in Alameda, Cathy Corison of Corison Winery in St. Helena and Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson Wines in Napa.

Outstanding Wine Program: A San Francisco restaurant, Corey Lee’s Benu, is among the finalists. The restaurant a.o.c. of Los Angeles is the only other California one.

Outstanding Baker: Perennial nominees Belinda Leong and Michel Suas of B. Patisserie in San Francisco are again finalists for this award.

Outstanding Bar Program: Bar Agricole and Trick Dog, both in San Francisco, are finalists.

Best Chef in the West: In this category, which covers California, Hawaii and Nevada, Crenn is the only Northern California nominee. The other four are SoCal chefs.

Outstanding Restaurant Design: In Situ, the signature restaurant at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from Corey Lee, has been nominated in the “75 seats and over” category. The design firms responsible for the look are Aidlin Darling Design with the a I m project.

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