Here Are the DC-Area Semifinalists for the 2018 James Beard Awards

Over 20 locals are nominated for one of the most prestigious accolades in the hospitality industry

Sea-urchin flan with lobster and caviar at Marcel's, a JBF semifinalist for Outstanding Service. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The James Beard Foundation has released its list of semifinalists for the coveted James Beard Awards (think the Oscars for the restaurant and bar industry). The long-list will be whittled down to a select group of finalists, which will be announced on Wednesday, March 14.

There’s plenty of hometown talent among the contenders in nearly every one of the 21 categories. (The exception: no Outstanding Baker nominee, after Bread Furst’s Mark Furstenberg won the award last year.) Familiar names like Vikram Sunderam are back; the Rasika chef won Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2014 and is now nominated for an Outstanding Chef award alongside Fabio Trabocchi, a five-time nominee in various categories and ’06 winner of Best Chef in America for his long-shuttered Maestro in Tysons Corner.

Fresh additions include three exciting spots for Best New Restaurant—the luxe Del Mar, ambitious fast-casual Chiko, and fire-centric Maydan—plus rising talent Daniela Moreira. The Timber Pizza Co. chef joins Petworth neighbor Kevin Tien (Himitsu) in the running for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

The Mid-Atlantic best chef category is particularly packed with chefs from DC, including first-time nominee Esther Lee, new chef/owner of the veteran Obelisk. Coming from Virginia, there’s Laotian food phenom Seng Luangrath of Padaek in Falls Church, and Tony Conte of the stellar Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown, Maryland.

See the full list of Washington contenders below, and the complete lineup here. Winners will be announced in an awards ceremony in Chicago on May 7.

Best New Restaurant

Del Mar

Outstanding Bar Program

Columbia Room

Outstanding Chef

Vikram Sunderam, Rasika
Fabio Trabocchi, Fiola

Outstanding Pastry Chef 

Aggie Chin, Mirabelle

Outstanding Restaurant 


Outstanding Restaurateur 

Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (The Bombay Club, Rasika, The Oval Room, and others

Outstanding Service 


Outstanding Wine Program

Bourbon Steak

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional

Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, VA

Rising Star Chef of the Year (“A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”)

Daniela Moreira, Timber Pizza
Kevin Tien, Himitsu

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina
Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint
Jeremiah Langhorne, the Dabney
Esther Lee, Obelisk
Cedric Maupillier, Convivial
Tarver King, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Seng Luangrath, Padaek
Tony Conte, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.