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Nightshade restaurant Los Angeles
Photograph: Jesse HsuNightshade

Here are the L.A. nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

Despite global restaurant shutdowns and millions of chefs, servers, bartenders and other service-industry workers furloughed or unemployed, America’s most notable annual food ceremony marches on.

The James Beard Awards, dubbed “the Oscars of food,” recognizes some of the country’s top restaurants, beverage programs, rising stars and other service pros, and this year—the ceremony’s 30th—is no exception, even given how drastically the dining landscape has changed since the semifinalists announcement in February. Today over a Twitter live stream, the James Beard Foundation revealed 2020’s finalists (which include a number of Los Angeles chefs and restaurants) and announced that its annual gala will be postponed to September 25, with the winners announcement along with it.

This year brought changes to the awards even prior to the industry’s upheaval, such as the new “Best Chef: California” category devoted to our state, as opposed to the generic “Best Chef: West” category; unfortunately a majority of L.A.’s “Best Chef: California” semifinalists have been culled during this second round, but Jeremy Fox and Jessica Koslow remain. L.A. also represents strongly in the “Best New Restaurant” category, in “Outstanding Pastry Chef,” and in the media awards, with mentions for Taco Chronicles on Netflix; Lucas Kwan Peterson’s power-rankings column at the Los Angeles Times; and cookbook nods for Dappled by Nicole Rucker; The Nomad Cocktail Book; Evan Funke’s American Sfoglino; and Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Javier Cabral and Guelaguetza’s Bricia Lopez.

Today’s announcement was originally scheduled for a March ceremony in Philadelphia, but after moving the date, the Foundation opted for a “virtual unveiling” and a reoccurring theme on supporting local restaurants, no matter what the future of dining might look like.

“It was clear that those whose work in 2019 led them to be selected as a semifinalist—and perhaps ultimately a nominee or a winner—deserved the recognition they earned,” writes Mitchell Davis, the foundation’s chief strategy officer. “Those we consulted felt the Awards could also offer a glimmer of hope to an industry looking for light in a very dark time.”

Here are the L.A. area’s nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards. 

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Jonathan Yao of Kato

Best New Restaurant:

Nightshade (our 2019 Best New Restaurant of the Year)


Best Chef: California: 

Jeremy Fox of Birdie G’s

Jessica Koslow of Sqirl

Joshua Skenes is representing San Francisco with Angler, though we also have a Los Angeles location 

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

Lincoln Carson of Bon Temps, which closed last week

Margarita Manzke of République

Outstanding Wine Program:

Night + Market Sahm

Outstanding Restaurant Design:

Auburn, which closed last week

The winners will be named during the postponed James Beard Awards ceremony, now slated for Friday, September 25, in Chicago. The 2020 Media Awards winners will be announced online on May 27.

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