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Here Are D.C.’s 2019 James Beard Awards Semifinalists

Here are the local players who made the first cut

The semifinalists for the James Beard Awards were announced on Wednesday, February 27. 
James Beard Foundation [Official photo]
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Beard season has officially arrived: Today the James Beard Foundation released its list of Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for 2019. On Wednesday, March 27, James Beard Award–winning chef Hugo Ortega will announce the (much shorter) list of final nominees at his namesake Mexican restaurant, Hugo’s, in Houston. (For the majority who can’t be present, they’ll also be announced via Twitter and Facebook Live.)

Winners will be announced Monday, May 6 at a gala at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The 2019 Media Awards will be held on Friday, April 26, at Pier Sixty in New York City.

Here are the D.C. area chefs and restaurants who made the cut this year:

Best New Restaurant

A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

  • Ellē
  • Spoken English

Outstanding Bar Program

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits, and/or beer service.

  • Columbia Room

Outstanding Chef

A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.

  • Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
  • Fabio Trabocchi, Fiola, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Pastry Chef

A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries, or breads in a restaurant, and who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence. Must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.

  • Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant

A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.

  • Jaleo
  • Komi

Outstanding Restaurateur

A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years)

  • Ruth Gresser, Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, D.C. (Pizzeria Paradiso, Birreria Paradiso)

Outstanding Service

A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.

  • Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.
  • Peking Gourmet Inn, Falls Church, Virginia

Outstanding Wine Program

A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.

  • Tail Up Goat, Washington, D.C.

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.

  • Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin, Washington, D.C.

Best Chefs

Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

  • Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
  • Erik Bruner-Yang, Brothers and Sisters, Washington, D.C.
  • Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint, Washington, D.C.
  • Jerome Grant, Sweet Home Café, Washington, D.C.
  • Haidar Karoum, Chloë, Washington, D.C.
  • Jon Sybert, Tail Up Goat, Washington, D.C.
  • Kevin Tien, Himitsu, Washington, D.C.
  • Nobu Yamazaki, Sushi Taro, Washington, D.C.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.