James Beard Award Semifinalists Include Four East Bay Nominees

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Reem Assil is a first-time James Beard Award semifinalist. - MELATI CITRAWIREJA/FILE PHOTO
  • Melati Citrawireja/File Photo
  • Reem Assil is a first-time James Beard Award semifinalist.

The James Beard Foundation released its list of award semifinalists today, and the East Bay is unusually well represented.

In the coming weeks, more than 600 judges will pare down the list to a group of finalists, and then, on May 7, the winners will be announced at a gala that functions as the Oscars of the food world.

Chez Panisse is the lone East Bay restaurant to have taken home James Beard awards, including for outstanding restaurant, outstanding chef, and outstanding pastry chef.

This year, Berkeley's Great China is a contender for its  wine program. Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in Alameda is once again a semifinalist for outstanding spirits professional. And Oakland's Reem Assil (Reem's) and Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club) were both nominated for best chef in the west, covering California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The award goes to a chef who has "set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions."

In the past couple of years, East Bay semifinalists have included Winters, Mistry, James Syhabout (Commis), and Christian Geideman (Ippuku), but none have advanced to the next round.

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