The James Beard Foundation released its 2012 list of restaurant and chef semifinalists yesterday, and across America, food writers scanned the list and asked themselves one question: Did Beard get it right?
The answer: mostly. For the last four years, the Beard Foundation has based its semifinalist list on nominations made by the public, which are then culled and vetted by its awards committee to create the semidemocratic list of semifinalists. And yet, when we asked a handful of food writers and critics, not surprisingly, they had strong opinions about who didn't make the list. So based on their comments, we've compiled this addendum of the overlooked, a shadow semifinalist list—Beard’s five o’clock shadow, if you will. We’re calling it the Stubble List, Stubbys for short.
Oh, a couple more things: Since many of our sources are actually on the Beard judging committee, we’ve kept all of them anonymous. And if you're not seeing any New York Stubby nominations here, it's because there—home of the Beard Foundation—the semifinalist list is spot on, according to our expert on the ground.
So without further fanfare, we give you our critics' nominations for the 2012 Stubbys:
LOS ANGELES | Best New Restaurant Bäco Mercat | Outstanding Bar Program Cole’s; La Descarga; The Varnish | Outstanding Chef Ludovic Lefebvre, LudoBites; Michael Voltaggio, ink. | Outstanding Restaurateur Roy Choi, Kogi BBQ, Chego
SAN FRANCISCO / OAKLAND | Outstanding Restaurateur Anthony Myint, Mission Chinese Food, Commonwealth, San Francisco; Daniel Patterson, COI, San Francisco, and Plum and Plum Bar, Haven, Oakland; James Syhabout, Commis, Hawker Fare, Oakland | Most Interesting Chef (a new, Stubble-only category!) Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food (already a Beard Rising Star Chef nominee); Nick Balla, Bar Tartine, San Francisco; Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury, Alembic, San Francisco
Did both the Beard voters and our critics miss someone or someplace worthy? Sound off in the comments!