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Nightshade restaurant Los Angeles
Photograph: Jesse HsuNightshade

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

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

3/12 Update: Due to coronavirus concerns, the 2020 James Beard Awards have been postponed to the summer. In a statement this morning, the James Beard Foundation outlined plans to move the annual food-awards ceremony—as well as its media-awards ceremony and that for leadership in the service industry—to new, yet-to-be-determined dates, but the nominee announcements will still proceed as planned, naming the finalists on March 25.

"We will continue to work with our partners in the coming weeks to identify new dates for all three Awards ceremonies," the statement says, "and will work with chefs and others in the industry to navigate the complicated leadership challenges and the economic impact this pandemic may have on their businesses now and in the future." Read the full statement here.

The James Beard Awards are now in their 30th year, and they're still just as synonymous with high culinary standards as their eponymous, late chef. But as they enter their third decade, this year's awards are seeing some changes—including a new "Best Chef: California" category devoted to our state, as opposed to the generic "Best Chef: West" category. Let's see how Los Angeles stacked up, given what's new.

The annual national ceremony—dubbed "the Oscars of food"—recognizes some of the country’s best restaurants, beverage programs, rising stars and other service pros, and this morning the organization behind it all named 2020's semifinalists—which involved more than a few of L.A.'s biggest names, and, notably, one of our food trucks.

This is the first round in nominations, which then leads to a finalist announcement and, finally, a spring ceremony that's not only highly anticipated, but one whose winners are lauded as such for years to come.

A handful of L.A.'s 2020 semifinalists were also named in last year's first wave of announcements, including Jon Yao as rising star; Margarita Manzke in the pastry-chef category, and Night +Market for its outstanding wine program. The new "Best Chef: California" category opens up our playing field a bit (though, as it was with "Best Chef: West," much of the competition is stacked against cities beyond L.A. and San Francisco).

Check out the full list of semifinalists, below, peruse the 2019 winners, then keep an eye out for the final list of nominees, set to release on March 25, followed by the James Beard Awards Gala ceremony—when the winners will be announced—held May 4 in Chicago.

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:

Genet Agonafer of Meals by Genet

Josef Centeno of Orsa & Winston (and Bar Amá, Amacita and Bäco)

Jeremy Fox of Birdie G's (and the rest of the Rustic Canyon restaurant group)

Brandon Go of Hayato

Jessica Koslow of Sqirl

Mei Lin of Nightshade

Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bavel (and Bestia)

Niki Nakayama of n/naka

and, just farther south, Carlos Salgado of Taco María in Costa Mesa

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

Outstanding Baker:

Na Young Ma of Proof Bakery

Outstanding Bar Program:

OTOTO (our 2019 Best New Bar of the Year)

Outstanding Chef:

Ludo Lefebvre (recognized for Trois Mec, but also of Petit Trois)

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

Lincoln Carson of Bon Temps

Margarita Manzke of République

Outstanding Restaurant:


Outstanding Wine Program:

Night + Market Sahm

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer:

David Favela of Border X Brewing (recognized as San Diego; we also have a location in Bell)

Check out the full list of semifinalists here, then stay tuned for a finalists announcement on Wednesday, March 25. The winners will be named during the annual James Beard Awards on Monday, May 4, in Chicago. The 2020 Media Awards will take place on April 24 in New York City.

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