Here are the DC-Area Semi-Finalists for the James Beard Awards

The Oscars of the food world are back.

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang in the kitchen at Spoken English, a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant.

Hello and welcome to the official start of restaurant-awards season. The James Beard Foundation just released its list of semi-finalists for their annual awards (the so-called Oscars of the food world). The actual finalists will be announced March 27, and the awards will be handed out in Chicago on May 6. 

The DC area makes a good showing—perhaps promising for the finale. In contention for the Best New Restaurant category are Elle, the Mount Pleasant bakery/cafe/restaurant, and Spoken English, Erik Bruner-Yang’s standing-only hideaway inside Adams Morgan’s Line hotel. Other biggies in the mix include Rasika’s Vikram Sunderam and Fiola’s Fabio Trabocchi, who are both up for Outstanding Chef and who have each taken home awards in the past. Brothers and Sisters cake master Pichet Ong is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Kith and Kin’s Kwame Onwuachi is a semi-finalist for Rising Star Chef. Veterans Komi and Jaleo are both possibilities for Outstanding Restaurant. Pizzeria Paradiso’s Ruth Gresser has a shot at Outstanding Restaurateur. And Marcel’s is in play for an Outstanding Service Award, along with a happy wild card—Falls Church’s Peking Gourmet Inn. 

The Shaw cocktail tasting room/bar the Columbia Room is a contender for Outstanding Bar Program, and Adams Morgan’s Tail Up Goat, whose quirky-cool beverage list is overseen by Bill Jensen, is up for Outstanding Wine Program. 

And of course, there are plenty of talented local chefs in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category, including Chloe’s Haidar Karoum and Sweet Home Cafe’s Jerome Grant, plus Centrolina’s Amy Brandwein and Bad Saint’s Tom Cunanan, who were both nominated for the award last year. 

See the full list of local nominees below:

New Restaurant

Elle (Mount Pleasant)
Spoken English (Adams Morgan)

Outstanding Bar Program

Columbia Room (Shaw)
Clavel Mezcaleria (Baltimore)

Outstanding Chef

Vikram Sunderam, Rasika (West End and Penn Quarter)
Fabio Trabocchi, Fiola (Penn Quarter)

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters (Adams Morgan)

Outstanding Restaurant

Jaleo (Penn Quarter, Crystal City, Bethesda)
Komi (Dupont Circle)

Outstanding Restaurateur

Ruth Gresser, Pizzeria Paradiso and Birreria Paradiso (Dupont Circle, Spring Valley, Georgetown, Old Town, and Hyattsville)

Outstanding Service

Marcel’s (West End)
Peking Gourmet Inn (Falls Church)

Outstanding Wine Program

Tail Up Goat (Adams Morgan)

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, Beer Producer

RdV Vineyards (Delaplane)

Rising Star Chef

Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin (the Wharf)
Ian Redshaw, Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria (Charlottesville)

Best Chef—Mid-Atlantic

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina (Downtown DC)
Erik Bruner-Yang, Brothers and Sisters (Adams Morgan)
Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint (Columbia Heights)
Jerome Grant, Sweet Home Cafe (Downtown DC)
Haidar Karoum, Chloe (Navy Yard)
Jon Sybert, Tail Up Goat (Adams Morgan)
Kevin Tien, Himitsu (Petworth)
Cindy Wolf, Charleston (Baltimore)
Nobu Yamazaki, Sushi Taro (Dupont Circle)


Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.