2023 James Beard Restaurant Award nominees: SoCal edition

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Good Food host Evan Kleiman (left) and Anajak Thai chef Justin Pichetrungsi at the restaurant's Taco Tuesday night, which is served outside in the alley. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

The James Beard Foundation this morning announced the finalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. They include nine Southern California contenders. 

Most notably, four of the five finalists in the Best Chef: California category are from Southern California. That's a major shift for an awards ceremony that has historically favored San Francisco and Northern California far above Los Angeles and Southern California. 

Among them is Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, who talked to Good Food back in 2021 about how he gave up his career as a concept artist and art director at the Walt Disney Company to take over the family restaurant, which his father founded in 1981, more than four decades ago. The restaurant has been raking in the kudos and just last night, both Buzzfeed Tasty and Jose Andres visited Anajak. (Source: The Good Food team had dinner there last night.)

Kudos to perennial nominee Niki Nakayama of the two Michelin-starred n/naka (and n/soto), who earned another nod in the Outstanding Chef category. Margarita Manzke of République (and Sari Sari Store and Bicyclette and Manzke and also one of the judges for Good Food's 2023 PieFest & Contest) is another repeat nominee, for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. Bridgetown Roti's Rashida Holmes, who launched her business as a weekend pop-up, earned a nod as Emerging Chef. 

Below are all the SoCal finalists for the 2023 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards. You can find a full list of all the nominees, regardless of provenance, here.

Chef Rashida Holmes uses green garlic for her shrimp curry roti at Bridgetown Roti. Photo courtesy of Bridgetown Roti.

Outstanding Chef

  • Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles, CA

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Greg Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Dulan's on Crenshaw, and Dulanville, Los Angeles, CA

Emerging Chef

  • Rashida Holmes, Bridgetown Roti, Los Angeles, CA

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

  • Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles, CA

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

  • OTOTO, Los Angeles, CA

Best Chef: California 

  • Gilberto Cetina Jr., Holbox, Los Angeles, CA 
  • Brandon Hayato Go, Hayato, Los Angeles, CA 
  • Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai, Sherman Oaks, CA 
  • Carlos Salgado, Taco María, Costa Mesa, CA