You thought the lead-up to the Oscars was long? The James Beard Foundation announces its winners via a three-pronged, multiple-month approach: Massive hoopla over the announcement of the semifinalists in February, delirious hoopla over the announcement of the finalists in mid-March and seriously over-the-top hoopla on May 6, when the winners are finally announced at a gala at New York City's Lincoln Center.
Let the hoopla commence -- or rather, continue to commence.
The foundation announced its 2013 finalists this morning and the Bay Area's culinary luminaries are particularly well represented, with two San Francisco restaurants, Rich Table and State Bird Provisions, among the five finalists for best new restaurant.
Melissa Chou is one of five finalists for outstanding pastry chef for her creative work at San Francisco's Aziza. And Danny Bowien, from Mission Chinese Food, and Thomas McNaughton from Flour+Water, both in San Francisco, are among the five finalists for rising star, a category that honors chefs, age 30 or younger, who are expected to have "a significant impact on the industry in years to come."
Other finalists for the 2013 James Beard awards include:
Outstanding chef: Gary Danko from Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco.
Outstanding restaurant: Slanted Door in San Francisco.
Outstanding service: Quince in San Francisco and the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena.
Outstanding wine program:
Outstanding bar program: Bar Agricole in San Francisco.
Outstanding wine, spirits or beer professional: Merry Edwards from Merry Edwards Winery in Sebastopol
Best chef, Western states: San Francisco chefs Chris Cosentino from Incanto, Corey Lee from Benu and Daniel Patterson of Coi, and Christopher Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena.
In the book award categories, Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel's "Bouchon Bakery" is a finalist for best baking and dessert book and best photography. In the food journalism category, Sacramento blogger Hank Shaw's Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is a finalist for best individual food blog.
Winners will be honored at a gala reception and awards ceremony at New York's Lincoln Center on May 6. For more information, go to www.jamesbeard.org/awards.