Brooklyn Chefs and Bakers Make it to the James Beard Awards Semifinals

Brooklyn Chefs and Bakers Make it to the James Beard Awards Semifinals

Yesterday, The James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization who honors chefs and other culinary leaders in America’s food culture, announced their 2020 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists.

The 2020 James Beard Awards marks the 30th anniversary of the honors for America’s leading experts in the food and beverage industry, touching upon not just chefs, but also journalists, authors, and others.

The categories of the awards vary, from Outstanding Restaurant to Rising Star Chef, as well as Media and Restaurant Design Awards. The finalists will be announced in Philadelphia on March 25. Follow the nominee announcement in real-time via Twitter.

Brooklyn Nominees

Oustanding Bakers

Craquelins, Cannele. Courtesy of Bien Cuit.
  • Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit

Bien Cuit has two Brooklyn locations and one in Manhattan, focusing on small-batch baking, giving each loaf of bread the attention and time it needs, no short cuts.

  • Ayako Kurokawa, Burrow

Burrow is a small, Japanese-style bakery hidden away in Dumbo. They offer high-end seasonal pastries and breakfast items and are open only on weekdays.

Outstanding Bar Program

  • Leyenda, Caroll Gardens

Leyenda is a pan-Latin cocktail bar and restaurant highlighting the spirits of Latin America, with classic cocktails with a twist and new creations, all served alongside modern takes on Latin homecooking from across Central and South American and the Caribbean.

Outstanding Chef

  • Missy Robbins, Lilia

Lilia is tucked away among the former manufacturing corners of Williamsburg. Their menu centers Italian wood-fired seafood, handcrafted pastas, classic Italian cocktails, where warm hospitality and simplicity come first for a casual, but luxury dining experience.

Outstanding Restaurateur

Saint Julivert Fisherie. Courtesy of Le Fooding.
  • Alex Raij and Eder Montero

This duo is responsible for Brooklyn’s Moorish and Jewish fusion tapa joint La Vara in Cobble Hill, its neighboring seafood restaurant Saint Julivert Fisherie, that won best bistro of the year from Le Fooding, as well as their Basque-inspired, wine-forward joint Txikito in Manhattan.

  • Jason Wang, Xi’an Famous Foods

Known for thick, hand-ripped noodles from the Xi’an region with cold-busting broths, Xi’an Famous Foods has multiple locations across the city and is family-owned. You can find them in Brooklyn in Greenpoint and Downtown Brooklyn.

Outstanding Wine Program

  • Ops, Bushwick

Ops, a casual joint with wood-fired sourdough pizza, has a straightforward one-page menu, but the true gem in their selections are their carefully paired natural wines. Marie Tribouilloy, one of the owners who curates the wine program, opened a natural wine shop Forêt Wines in Ridgewood in early 2019. The team also opened another joint, a bakery and restaurant, focusing on sourdough creations in Williamsburg at the end of the year, called Leo.

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer

  • Aaron Fox and Daniel de la Nuez, Forthave Spirits

Forthave Spirits is tucked away in the production-heavy Pfizer building on the cusp of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, long ago repurposed as a business incubator heavily occupied by food and beverage companies. The team crafts natural botanical spirits, like Italian aperitivos, amaros, and gins.

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Clockwise from the left top corner, a spread from Win Son Bakery: Scallion pancake with bacon, egg, and cheese; custard toast; fan tuan with pork floss. Rachel Baron/Bklyner.
  • Trigg Brown, Win Son

An adored Taiwanese-American joint, Win Son has a restaurant (included in the Michelin’s Bib Guide) and a bakery (which won Eater’s bakery of the year), and both have been celebrated in the culinary world. You can try classics like stinky tofu and have contemporary twists like their sloppy bao. The neighboring bakery has luscious pork knuckle breakfast sandwiches and chewy mochi donuts.

Best Chef

This neighborhood staple celebrates great wine pairings with seasonal bites.

Also included in Michelin’s Bib Guide and nominated for Restaurant of the Year by Eater in 2019, this homey restaurant serves Korean home cooking inspired by traditional dishes, in a joint named after female divers in the province of Jeju.

This Peruvian restaurant celebrates seasonal ingredients that highlight the flavors and dishes of Peru. Find purple potatoes under a blanket of cheese sauce, beef heart skewers, and passion fruit cocktails. Plus, enjoy the beautiful garden rooftop once spring comes in full bloom.

The 2020 James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The 2020 Leadership Awards will be held on Sunday, May 3 in Chicago, and the 2020 Media Awards will take place on Friday, April 24, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Tickets to both the Awards Gala and the Media Awards will be on sale beginning March 25 at