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James Beard Awards 2016: Who Should Win, Who Will Win

Eater editors name their picks

The James Beard Awards, considered the highest honor among restaurant and culinary professionals, will be handed out on Monday during a ceremony in the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Here now, a look at who Eater's local and national editors think should win in each category and a data-driven analysis of who Eater thinks will wind up taking those pretty medals home.


Table Of Contents (all h2's added automatically)

Some observations before revealing the picks: There are several repeats from last year's endorsements, both from a national and a regional perspective. The Beard committee tends to nominate people more than once before giving them the win — some categories this year are nearly identical, save for one person swapped in for last year's winner. If 2016's endorsements show us anything, it's that Eater has some fundamental questions about the way 2015 shook out.

New to Eater's approach this year is who we think will win in each chef category (including all regions' Best Chefs, Outstanding Chef, and Rising Star Chef). For these picks, we created several datasets on past nominees' demographics and nomination histories, including 10 years of Best Chef and Rising Star Chef data, and all 25 years of Outstanding Chef award winners. We used the newly discovered trends to identify some specific factors that past winners have in common, such as age, number of times nominated, and region. We then used those factors to calculate the odds of this year's finalists winning their respective categories, and the nominees with the highest odds are who we predict will win each category.

In some categories, like Outstanding Chef, the odds are very close, with our pick leading only by a fraction. In other groups there's a clear leader, like our prediction for Rising Star Chef — that person is the only one in the category to have been nominated a year prior (a trend among 75 percent of previous winners). The data also shows some interesting trends when it comes to gender and who ultimately takes the prize. Of course, one can't truly forecast how Beard voters will act, and some results have a fairly wide margin of error (which, as some would argue, is just like the Beards themselves).

Without further ado, Eater's take on the 2016 awards:

OUTSTANDING CHEF

  • Sean Brock (Husk, Nashville)
  • Suzanne Goin (Lucques, Los Angeles)
  • Donald Link (Herbsaint, New Orleans)
  • Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Philadelphia)
  • Michael Tusk (Quince, San Francisco)

Eater endorses... Suzanne Goin

"Suzanne Goin remains at the top of her game, combining a deep knowledge of French cuisine with California's unparalleled produce. An LA native, her restaurants have been defining the dining culture of her hometown for almost 20 years. As Erin DeJesus said in her endorsement last year, 'It's time for the Beards to finally acknowledge her versatility and ambition.'" — Meghan McCarron

Eater data predicts... Suzanne Goin

"When it comes to Outstanding Chef, region and gender are clues as to who will win. More than 80 percent of Outstanding Chef winners are from New York City or the West Coast. Michael Tusk and Suzanne Goin are the only finalists in this category from those regions. Tusk being male gives him an edge, considering the fact that 85 percent of Outstanding Chef winners in the last 25 years have been men. But despite those odds, we're predicting Suzanne Goin will win this year. It is Goin's eighth nomination for this category, and no chef has ever been nominated more than seven times for work at the same restaurant without winning. It's about time." — VD All Suzanne Goin Coverage [ELA]

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR

  • Alex Bois (High Street on Market, Philadelphia)
  • Angela Dimayuga (Mission Chinese Food, NYC)
  • Grae Nonas (Olamaie, Austin)
  • Matthew Rudofker (Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC)
  • Daniela Soto-Innes (Cosme, NYC)
  • Jenner Tomaska (Next, Chicago)

Eater endorses... Daniela Soto-Innes

"Enrique Olvera is the name you know at Cosme. But Daniela Soto-Innes is the chef running the show. She's the reason the hamachi with jalapeños is so damn good; she sends out the fish at near room temperature to bring out its luscious oils. She's the one who makes sure the tortillas pack the type of intoxicating aroma one might expect from dry-aged beef, not humble corn. She ranks along with Alex Stupak (and Olvera) as a chief reason that New Yorkers are willing to pay $125 and over per person for Mexican fare." — Ryan Sutton All Cosme Coverage [ENY]

Eater data predicts... Alex Bois

"Our data shows that Alex Bois is at least five times more likely to win this category than anyone else. Chefs have a 50 percent chance of winning on their second nomination, data shows — and 75 percent of Rising Star winners in the last decade were also nominated the year prior. Bois is the only nominee in the category this year to meet both standards. He's also a man, making him 25 times more likely to win Rising Star Chef than his female colleagues." — VD All Alex Bois Coverage [EPHL]

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

  • Death & Taxes (Raleigh, NC)
  • Launderette (Austin)
  • Wildair (NYC)
  • Liholiho Yacht Club (San Francisco)
  • Shaya (New Orleans)
  • Staplehouse (Atlanta)

Eater endorses... Staplehouse

"This year's Best New Restaurant nominees make for an impressive group. Two of the contenders, Shaya and Liholiho Yacht Club, took home 2015 Eater Awards for Restaurant of the Year and So Hot Right Now, respectively. But Atlanta's Staplehouse, which opened in September, deserves the win. Chef Ryan Smith selects uncommon ingredients such as preserved maitake mushrooms and fermented pepper and uses innovative techniques to produce daily five-course tasting menus. That the restaurant benefits the Giving Kitchen, an Atlanta charity supporting service industry professionals, is a nice bonus." Chris Fuhrmeister | All Staplehouse Coverage [EATL]

OUTSTANDING BAKER

  • Joanne Chang (Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston)
  • Mark Furstenberg (Bread Furst, Washington, D.C.)
  • Zachary Golper (Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY)
  • Belinda Leong and Michel Suas (B. Patisserie, San Francisco)
  • William Werner (Craftsman and Wolves, San Francisco)

Eater endorses... Belinda Leong and Michel Suas

"I stand by my recommendation from last year. Belinda Leong and Michel Suas deserve national recognition for the breath, creativity, and consistency of their work. As I said a year ago, both Leong and Suas have evolved their craft into a bakery setting after years of managing dessert menus at fine-dining restaurants, and their attention to detail yields truly prize-worthy results. By now, most of the country has heard about their stunning kouign amann — available in half a dozen seasonal flavors. Thanks to their hard work, B. Patisserie remains one of the best bakeries and pastry shops in the country." — Daniela Galarza All B. Patisserie Coverage [ESF]

OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM

  • Arnaud's French 75 Bar (New Orleans)
  • Bar Agricole (San Francisco)
  • Clyde Common (Portland, OR)
  • Cure (New Orleans)
  • Maison Premiere (Brooklyn, NY)

Eater endorses... Arnaud’s French 75 Bar

"All great programs here. While Clyde Common's donation to the drinks world — which comes in the form of barrel-aged cocktails —€” has touched bars from coast to coast, I said this last year and I am going to say it again: For the sake of history, its namesake contribution to the world of classic cocktails, and for its all-around excellent bar program, Arnaud's deserves the win." — Kat Odell | All Arnaud's French 75 Bar Coverage [ENOLA]

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF

  • Meg Galus (Boka, Chicago)
  • Maura Kilpatrick (Oleana, Cambridge, MA)
  • Dolester Miles (Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL)
  • Dahlia Narvaez (Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles)
  • Ghaya Oliveira (Daniel, NYC)
  • Jennifer Yee (Lafayette, NYC)

Eater endorses... Dolester Miles

"Years ago I had Dol Miles's desserts while dining at Bottega, and the coconut cake — moist, but not too sweet; fluffy but with integrity —€” remains in my memory. Miles has not received enough attention for her simple, Southern-inflected desserts, from a cheesecake that highlights the best Southern strawberry harvests to chocolate caramel tarts that mimic the texture of a deeply fudgey chess pie, Miles is a standout among pastry chefs in this category." —€” Daniela GalarzaAll Alabama Coverage [E]

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT

  • Alinea (Chicago)
  • Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder, CO)
  • Highlands Bar and Grill (Birmingham, AL)
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar (NYC)
  • The Spotted Pig (NYC)

Eater endorses... Momofuku Noodle Bar

"The five restaurants on the Outstanding list are a perfect encapsulation of American dining right now: There's one ultra-refined high-end tasting menu spot, one old-world-inspired reinterpretation of European dining, one genteel Southern restaurant with a rich local history, one loud-music-and-hip-beers Asian-ish trendsetter, and one elevated-comfort-food gastropub with celeb investors. I can't pick one to win, though —€” no gut feeling on this category at all." — Helen Rosner

Eater's previous endorsement of Momofuku Noodle Bar, written by Eater NY chief critic/data lead Ryan Sutton stands, then: "It's hard to think of a more influential restaurant than David Chang's Noodle Bar, which served as a launching point for the larger Momofuku empire, and countless other ‘haute-casual' restaurants. It made so many of us care more about using better-sourced ingredients and humanely-raised meats in cuisines previously regarded as ‘ethnic' or ‘cheap.' And even though Noodle Bar convinced us to pay more for snack fare, it also, somewhat paradoxically, helped kick off our modern ‘budget gourmet' movement, serving ambitious small plates in a stripped down setting at lower-than-expected prices." — Ryan Sutton | All Momofuku Noodle Bar Coverage [ENY]

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR

  • Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz (Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago; Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, Swift & Sons, and others)
  • Ken Friedman (New York City; The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Tosca Café)
  • Michael Mina (Mina Group, San Francisco; Michael Mina, RN74, Bourbon Steak, and others)
  • Cindy Pawlcyn (Napa, CA; Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, and Cindy's Waterfront at the Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  • Stephen Starr (Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia; Serpico, The Dandelion, Talula's Garden, and others)

Eater endorses... Stephen Starr

"I said it last year, and I'm sticking by my pick this year: It's time to recognize the prolific Philly-based restaurant man Stephen Starr: He will never stop opening restaurants. Now that he partners with top-notch chefs to do it, I think it's time to give him credit for doing more than just making a shit-ton of money with Buddakan and Morimoto." — HD All Stephen Starr Coverage [EPHL]

OUTSTANDING SERVICE

  • Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, NY)
  • Eleven Madison Park (NYC)
  • North Pond (Chicago)
  • Quince (San Francisco)
  • Topolobampo (Chicago)

Eater endorses... Eleven Madison Park

"They have to give it to Eleven Madison Park, right? Will Guidara hosts a hospitality symposium, has a 'dreamweaver' on staff, and has pretty much turned offering outstanding service into a personal mission —€” and a compelling reason to visit the restaurant in and of itself. Besides, I worry that an obscure bylaw might require some sort of blood sacrifice in the event of a loss here." — HD All Eleven Madison Park Coverage [ENY]

OUTSTANDING WINE, BEER, OR SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL

  • Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE)
  • Ron Cooper (Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, NM)
  • Miljenko Grgich (Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA)
  • Rob Tod (Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME)
  • Harlen Wheatley (Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY)

Eater endorses... Ron Cooper

"Like last year, I'll endorse Ron Cooper, and I'll just repeat what I said then: He was way ahead of the pack when it came to artisanal spirits. He has stood steadfast for quality, traditional products that are distinctive and made by real communities, and he has never given the least amount of ground to the vast global industrial drinks machine." — Levi Dalton All Ron Cooper Coverage [E]

OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM

  • Bern's Steak House (Tampa, FL)
  • Canlis (Seattle)
  • Commander's Palace (New Orleans)
  • FIG (Charleston, SC)
  • Sepia (Chicago)

Eater endorses... no one

"I'd say briefly that the Beard Foundation has gotten to this place where they are literally years behind in granting awards, and totally out of step with what is going on today as a result. Choosing between Bern's and Commander's Palace right now is like deciding a contemporary Emmy contest of All in the Family against Sanford and Son. And I liked Sanford and Son: I liked it a long time ago. Sure, those are great places, sure, they had influence, but let's recognize that party lines aren't how people communicate anymore. Times have moved on. Natural wine is a real thing that is happening in the world. Higher acid, fresher wines are a real thing that people buy and get excited about. Meanwhile, the JBFAs exist in this alternate reality wherein places that Henry Kissinger used to hit up in his salad days are the stars, ever-renewable sources of energy and article intrigue. It is semi-ridiculous to engage with that kind of thinking, and verges on being a through-the-looking-glass experience for any pundit who tries. I don't envy them." — Levi Dalton

BEST CHEF: GREAT LAKES

  • Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice, Chicago)
  • Curtis Duffy (Grace, Chicago)
  • Lee Wolen (Boka, Chicago)
  • Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria, Chicago)
  • Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia, Chicago)

Eater endorses... Curtis Duffy

"Chicago swept the Best Chef: Great Lakes finalists in 2016 for good reason — €”these chefs are some of the absolute best in the entire world, indicative of the Chicago dining scene as a whole. But someone has to win, and as I said last year, that someone should be Curtis Duffy of three-Michelin-starred Grace. Cleveland's Jonathon Sawyer won in a surprising upset in 2015, but Duffy won't be denied a trip to the podium to claim a Beard in 2016." — Daniel Gerzina All Curtis Duffy Coverage [ECHI]

Eater data predicts... Erling Wu-Bower

"Erling Wu-Bower, Curtis Duffy, and Andrew Zimmerman are the top contenders for Best Chef: Great Lakes. But what sets Wu-Bower apart is that this is his second nomination, while Duffy and Zimmerman are on their fourth and fifth, respectively. Finalists on their first or second nominations are almost twice as likely to win than those with more nominations. 81 percent of past Best Chef winners have won on their first, second, or third nominations. This means, statistically speaking, Wu-Bower's odds of winning this category are double Duffy's and Zimmerman's." — VDAll Erling Wu-Bower Coverage [ECHI]

BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC

  • Peter Chang (Peter Chang, Arlington, VA)
  • Eli Kulp (Fork, Philadelphia)
  • Rich Landau (Vedge, Philadelphia)
  • Aaron Silverman (Rose's Luxury, Washinton, D.C.)
  • Greg Vernick (Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia)
  • Cindy Wolf (Charleston, Baltimore)

Eater endorses... Eli Kulp

"A great chef isn't defined only by a measure of talent; the profession begs for a certain sort of resilience — a strength of character and spirit. When Eli Kulp came to town, he elevated the scene around him. He brought our terroir to life at Fork, he brought bistro dining to new heights at a.kitchen, and High Street on Market was such a hit, expanding it to New York City was, but of course, the next evolution of his success. He did it, and he did it successfully, all in the face of one of the most horrific experiences a human can endure. He's not only a talent, but he's a talent against all odds, and that's what really sets him apart from the rest." — Alex Tewfik All Eli Kulp Coverage [EPHL]

Eater data predicts... Rich Laundau or Greg Vernick

"These are the second nominations for Rich Landau and Greg Vernick. That gives them enough oomph to be statistically more likely to win than their competitors. Cindy Wolf's odds would have been higher if James Beard Awards were given to women more often —€” but we also wouldn't be surprised if she ultimately takes the prize." — VD All Philadelphia Coverage [EPHL]

BEST CHEF: MIDWEST

  • Paul Berglund (The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis)
  • Justin Carlisle (Ardent, Milwaukee)
  • Kevin Nashan (Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis)
  • Lenny Russo (Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, St. Paul, MN)
  • Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus, St. Louis)

Eater endorses... Lenny Russo

"This is (finally) Lenny Russo's year. When the chef first opened his restaurant Heartland, the idea of creating a year-round local menu in Minnesota seemed crazy. Now, every other restaurant waves the local-only banner. This year saw Russo release his first cookbook, he led the food charge for the 2023 World Expo, and he branched out to do some very public restaurant consulting. It's time to end his Susan Lucci-like streak of being nominated and going home empty-handed. His ninth semi-finalist nod and fifth nomination as a finalist ought to bring home the win." — Joy Summers All Lenny Russo Coverage [EMPLS]

Eater data predicts... Justin Carlisle

"The Midwest category will be a close call between Paul Berglund and Justin Carlisle. But this is Carlisle's second nomination and Berglund's third. Data shows that, after a second nomination, the more times a finalist is nominated, the lower his or her odds." —VD | All Milwaukee Coverage [E]

BEST CHEF: NEW YORK CITY

  • Marco Canora (Hearth)
  • Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi (Carbone)
  • Anita Lo (Annisa)
  • Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto)
  • Jody Williams (Buvette)

Eater endorses... Marco Canora

"This is the age of Marco Canora. He helped fuel a national craze over bone broth when he launched Brodo in 2014. He ditched hearty entrees in favor of lighter small plates (and funky organ meat burgers) at Hearth, his 13-year-old East Village restaurant that continues to pack in the crowds. He still hosts an annual chef-studded fundraiser for A Life Story Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping find a cure for ALS. And his health-food inspired brodo at Hearth, against all odds, is one of the city's best dishes." — Ryan Sutton

Eater data predicts... Marco Canora

"This category could have been a tie between Marco Canora and Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, but teams rarely win Best Chef, decreasing the duo's odds. The fact that individuals have beaten teams 71 percent of the time is just enough push to make this category a steal for Canora, statically speaking." — VDAll Marco Canora Coverage [ENY]

BEST CHEF: NORTHEAST

  • Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang, Boston)
  • Brian Hill (Francine, Camden, ME)
  • Zak Pelaccio (Fish & Game, Hudson, NY)
  • Susan Regis (Shepard, Cambridge, MA)
  • Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co. (Portland, ME)

Eater endorses... Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley

"As their budding restaurant empire grows, Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor deserve credit for their part in advancing Portland, Maine's modern food renaissance. Eater's pick for last year's Beard, Eventide perfectly captures the historic, touristic pleasure of visiting the most northeastern state, and does so without being dragged into the past by preconceived notions of coastal fare. Instead, the young chefs haul the past into the present, shucking world-class oysters alongside traditional favorites with thoughtful twists." — Adam H. Callaghan

Eater data predicts... Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley

"Karen Akunowicz's odds of winning Best Chef: Northeast would have crushed the competitions', if it weren't for voters' history of hardly nominating and selecting female winners. That puts Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley at the top. While teams traditionally lose to individuals, this year Taylor and Wiley are most likely to take home the Beard medallion because they are the only remaining finalists who, like Akunowicz, earned their first nomination last year, an important factor in winning Best Chef." — VD | All Eventide Oyster Co. Coverage [EME]

BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST

  • Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton (Ox, Portland, OR)
  • Mike Easton (Il Corvo Pasta, Seattle)
  • Renee Erickson (The Whale Wins, Seattle)
  • Justin Woodward (Castagna, Portland, OR)
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (Joule, Seattle)

Eater endorses... Justin Woodward

"I really hope Justin Woodward wins Best Chef: Northwest because the meals at Castagna regularly rank among the best I've had in Portland. The plating is beautiful — always telling a story about featured Northwest ingredients — the flavors are surprising, and the precision and sheer technique Woodward displays is equally solid and creative. Moreover, Castagna (Eater's pick for the award last year) just deserves more attention all around." — Mattie John Bamman All Justin Woodward Coverage [EPDX]

Eater data predicts... Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton

"Like Best Chef: Northeast, the Northwest contention comes down to whether couples or women have better odds at winning. Renee Erickson of the Whale Wins is essentially competing against husband and wife duo Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, due to the number of times they've each been nominated. But the odds favor the Dentons, thanks to the lower chances of women winning against men and duos. Otherwise, it's a win for Erickson." — VDAll Ox Coverage [EPDX]

BEST CHEF: SOUTH

  • Vishwesh Bhatt (Snackbar, Oxford, MS)
  • Justin Devillier (La Petite Grocery, New Orleans)
  • Jose Enrique (Jose Enrique, San Juan, PR)
  • Slade Rushing (Brennan's, New Orleans)
  • Isaac Toups (Toups' Meatery, New Orleans)

Eater endorses... Justin Devillier

"This is the fifth consecutive year that Justin Devillier has been a finalist for Best Chef: South. In that time he's continued to refine his chops at the lovely La Petite Grocery and opened a new restaurant, Balise, that's been drawing heavy praise in New Orleans. It's his year." — Gwendolyn Knapp | All Justin Devillier Coverage [ENOLA]

Eater data predicts... Slade Rushing

"Chefs from New Orleans are almost twice as likely to win Best Chef: South than chefs from other cities. Between the three NOLA chefs this year, only Slade Rushing and Justin Devillier were nominated in 2015, and more than 80 percent of winners are nominated the year prior to their wins. But Devillier has been nominated five times, compared to Rushing's two nominations, and we know that the more times one is nominated, the lower their odds are of winning. So, our bets are on Rushing." — VDAll Slade Rushing Coverage [ENOLA]

BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST

  • Kevin Gillespie (Gunshow, Atlanta)
  • Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY)
  • Steven Satterfield (Miller Union, Atlanta)
  • Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis)
  • Tandy Wilson (City House, Nashville)

Eater endorses... Steven Satterfield

"Steven Satterfield's James Beard win is long overdue. The chef's commitment to the food and people of the Southeast shines through his work, whether it's his fantastic and consistent restaurant Miller Union in Atlanta or his first cookbook, which came out in the spring of 2015 and distills the essence of his cooking for food enthusiasts not lucky enough to have Miller Union in their hometown. His food is always perfectly seasonal and without any gimmicks —€” it simply celebrates local produce and brings the best of the region to plates every day." — Sonia Chopra

Eater data predicts... Steven Satterfield

"Steven Satterfield was nominated for the first time in 2015, increasing his odds of winning this year. He is also from Atlanta, while his co-finalists come from cities that haven't produced winners in 10 years, increasing Satterfield's odds even more." — VD | All Steven Satterfield Coverage [EATL]

BEST CHEF: SOUTHWEST

  • Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Austin)
  • Steve McHugh (Cured, San Antonio)
  • Hugo Ortega (Caracol, Houston)
  • Alex Seidel (Fruition, Denver)
  • Justin Yu (Oxheart, Houston)

Eater endorses... Steve McHugh

"Steve McHugh is undoubtedly one of the most talented chefs not just in Texas, but the entire country. His charcuterie program is relentlessly innovative and yet somehow manages to not outshine the rest of the crazy-good technique that is showcased on the rest of the menu. It's also high time that San Antonio's criminally underrated culinary scene got a little recognition." — Amy McCarthy | All Steve McHugh Coverage [E]

Eater also endorses... Alex Seidel

"A leader in the farm to table movement, chef Alex Seidel got the attention of the dining community with his now nine-year-old Fruition. He soon added to his portfolio a farm and creamery. In 2014, Seidel opened another of Denver's very best food destinations, Mercantile Dining & Provision, an airy contemporary restaurant with an ambitious menu and modern melding of retail and dining. During his time as a restaurant owner, Seidel has been a Beard semi-finalist seven times." — Andra Zeppelin All Alex Seidel Coverage [EDEN]

Eater data predicts... Justin Yu

"Justin Yu, like most winners, was nominated last year. Of the other chefs in his category who were also nominated last year, Yu has the least number of nominations, and history shows most winners win on their first, second, or third nominations. By our calculations, Yu's odds of winning are 9:1. Place your bets, now." — VDAll Justin Yu Coverage [EHOU]

BEST CHEF: WEST

  • Matthew Accarrino (SPQR, San Francisco)
  • Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Los Angeles)
  • Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco)
  • Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, CA)
  • Corey Lee (Benu, San Francisco)
  • Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Los Angeles)

Eater endorses... Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo

"These two could be credited with proving Los Angeles as a preeminent food city, with places like Animal and Son of a Gun serving the kind of on-trend, small plates fare that nearly everyone in LA has tried to imitate one way or another. But the duo's newer crop of projects, from the near faultless Jon & Vinny's to the perfect chef supergroup (with Ludo Lefebvre) that is Petit Trois and Trois Mec, show that LA can produce world-class dining. If the guys don't pick up a Beard this year — Eater endorsed them last year, too — I might pull my hair out. Very few in Los Angeles doubt that Shook and Dotolo have left an indelible mark on America's greatest food city." — Matthew Kang All Animal Coverage [ELA]

Eater data predicts... Matthew Accarrino

"Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, more Best Chefs come from the city by the bay. Among the San Francisco chefs, Matthew Accarrino and Corey Lee were nominated last year, a common trait among winners. But this is Lee's fourth nomination and Accarrino's second, and more than 80 percent of past winners have won on their first through third nominations." — VD | All Matthew Accarino Coverage [ESF]

Note: Eaters Restaurant Editor Bill Addison is on the Beard restaurant committee but had nothing to do with the creation of this story.

Lead image: Barry Breichesen for Eater

Hillary Dixler is Eater's senior reports editor. Vince Dixon is Eater's data visualization reporter.

Editor: Erin DeJesus

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