Tag james beard

James Beard Foundation Awards: The Food World Oscars

If you’ve ever had a phenomenal restaurant experience, you will agree that chefs and restaurants are indeed worthy of awards. The James Beard Foundation Awards are considered “the Oscars of the food world” (TIME magazine) and the food industry’s highest honor. Winners will be announced in a number of categories, including restaurants and chefs, on Monday, May 3rd at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception in New York City.

With the ceremony coming up next week, we thought we would spotlight nominees in San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle so food enthusiasts could get in the know on these industry stars.

San Franciscans can be proud as they were strongly represented in the Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Chef categories. Chicago dominated the Best Chef category for the Great Lakes region and Seattle took two slots for the category in the Northwest region.

Check out these notable nominees in each city and leave a comment if you’ve ever dined at any of the restaurants listed:

San Francisco

Best New Restaurant

  • Flour + Water: Simple and authentic Italian food including house made pasta, Neapolitan pizza, and salumi. Accessible wine. “Come as you are” atmosphere. (2401 Harrison St. @ 20th St., Mission)
  • Frances: Modern California cuisine showcasing artisanal products from Northern California farmers. Relaxed neighborhood setting. (3870 17th St., Castro)
  • RN74: Modern yet simple French fare carefully paired with featured wines. (Millennium Tower, 301 Mission St., SOMA)

Outstanding Chef

  • Gary Danko – Restaurant Gary Danko Modern and classic cuisine using seasonal, locally grown and raised foods.  Romantic elegant and sophisticated ambiance. (800 North Point @ Hyde Street, Fisherman’s Wharf)
  • Charles Phan The Slanted DoorModern Vietnamese cuisine showcasing ecologically farmed meats from SF Bay Area farms. Relaxed atmosphwere. (1 Ferry Building #3, Embarcadero)

Outstanding Restaurateur

Outstanding Restaurant

  • BoulevardHearty American regional flavors and French influenced style. Warm and welcoming atmosphere. (One Mission St, Embarcadero)

Outstanding Service

  • Michael Mina American cuisine with bold flavors, sophisticated textures and artful presentation. Elegant atmosphere. (Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street, Union Square)


Best Chef

  • Michael CarlsonSchwaItalian- and Achatz-influenced, contemporary, innovative nine course menu by reservation only. BYOB. (1466 N. Ashland)
  • Koren GrievesonAvecRustic cuisine with handcrafted charcuterie and Mediterranean flavors. Wine bar features selections from southwestern Europe boutique vineyards. (615 W. Randolph)
  • Arun SampanthavivatArun’sCarefully balanced imaginative Thai cuisine featuring a “Chef’s Designed” prix fixé tasting menu of 12 courses customized for each diner. (4156 N. Kedzie Avenue)
  • Bruce ShermanNorth PondContemporary French-American, innovative, seasonal cuisine. (2610 Canyon Drive)

Outstanding Restaurateur

Outstanding Pastry Chef

  • Mindy SegalMindy’s Hot ChocolateRestaurant and dessert bar with excellent hot chocolate and desserts made with seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. (1747 North Damen Avenue)

Outstanding Restaurant

  • SpiaggiaItalian fine dining with pairings from an award-winning wine list. (980 North Michigan Avenue)

Outstanding Service

  • AlineaNew American cuisine featuring small-course tasting menus utilizing innovative techniques and deconstructions of classic flavors for a complete dining experience that touches all senses. (1723 North Halsted)


Best Chef

  • Ethan StowellUnionFeatures an ever-changing menu focused on unique and quality ingredients. (1400 First Avenue)
  • Jason WilsonCrushModern Northwest cuisine employing French Technique and using local, organic ingredients. (2319 E. Madison Street)

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Tom Douglas – Dahlia Bakery, Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s, Lola, Palace Kitchen, Serious Pie

Top Chef Deconstructed

This week’s episode seemed like a flashback to high school, full of cattiness and cliques with a dash of deconstruction and molecular gastronomy.

It’s the We-Don’t-Like-Robin Club, and Mike I., Eli and Laurine are all running for Club President.  Mattim is gone, and the cheftestants are upset- especially Mike I.  They each decide to represent their recently departed friend by wearing his signature red handkerchief.  Robin hit the nail on the head by stating the general consensus was that she should have been the one to go (but wait until we get to the quick-fire challenge).

The contestants welcome James Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein to the quick-fire challenge.  The challenge: make a duo that represents the chef’s personal battles between their own angels and devils.  Most of the chefs had similar interpretations of the angel/devil duo- healthy vs. butter, healthy vs. fat, healthy vs. not-so healthy.  You get the idea.  Ash, Bryan and Laurine found themselves at the bottom of this quick-fire.  Michael V., Eli and Robin were on top.  Chef Bernstein chose Robin as the winner and the rest of the contestants were not so pleased.  Her duo of arugula, apple and fennel salad and cardamom apple ginger crisp was simple and well executed.

Magicians Penn & Teller arrive for the elimination challenge.  The duo (do I sense a theme here?) perform the classic version of cups and balls.  But true to Penn & Teller’s style, they show a deconstruction of the magic act by using clear cups and ta-da!  All is revealed, which is the perfect set up to the elimination challenge.

Their challenge is to deconstruct a classic dish into something that is not recognizable, but tastes and smells of the original dish.  The menu: meat lasagna, Caesar salad, shepherd’s pie, clam chowder, sweet and sour pork, fish and chips, chicken mole negro, Reuben, eggs Florentine, pot roast and paella.
Immediately, Jennifer is not too enthusiastic about her meat lasagna and Mike I. describes his dish as ‘eggs-foreign-to-me’ since he has no clue what eggs Florentine is.  Michael V. seems confident about his deconstructed Caesar salad.  Sibling rivalry between the Voltaggio brothers is in the air as Brian calls Michael V. a ‘show off’ for baking his own bread.  Ron has some trouble with the concept of deconstruction and seems to be making classic paella.  Between Laurine’s annoyance with Robin and problematic chips for her fish, she does not seem on top of her game.

Back at the house, Eli and Kevin try to help Ron conceptualize his paella.  Laurine, Mike I. and Jennifer chat about their resentment towards Robin and Mike is still confused about what eggs Florentine is (maybe he should sign up for one of our hand’s on cooking classes).

Toby Young is back and sits in for Gail in this elimination challenge.  Keeping with the duality theme, the chefs serve their dishes in pairs.  After the deconstructed meals, Padma calls Ash, Michael, Kevin and Jennifer as the winners of the elimination challenge.  The judges enjoyed Michael V’s thoughtful take on Caesar salad and the use of chemicals in his dish.  In the end, Kevin took the win for his delicious chicken mole negro.

Laurine, Ron and Ash are called out as the bottom of the elimination challenge.  The judges were disappointed in Laurine’s overly deconstructed dish and lack of tasty chips.  Ash’s poorly cooked chops did not please Tom.  Ultimately, Ron was sent home for the lack of deconstruction in his dry, soggy paella.  Michelle points out that even if he did not know how to deconstruct paella, at least make a delicious paella.  But such was not the case and the chefs bid adieu to Ron.

Contributed by Krystal Shih