This is awards season -- and we're not talking Oscars. The James Beard Foundation awards honor the best restaurants and chefs in the nation, and they've just unveiled the 2013 semifinalists, a list winnowed down from about 44,000 nominees. The Bay Area and Wine Country are particularly well-represented, with more than three dozen semifinalists from Los Gatos to St. Helena and -- especially -- San Francisco. The semifinalists include:
Best new restaurant: San Francisco's Rich Table and State Bird Provisions. They will be competing against 15 other restaurants for that coveted title.
Outstanding bar program: San Francisco's Abbot's Cellar and Bar Agricole
Best chef: Los Gatos chef David Kinch from Manresa and San Francisco chefs Michael Tusk from Quince and Gary Danko from Restaurant Gary Danko
Outstanding pastry chef: San Francisco chefs Melissa Chou from Aziza and William Werner from Craftsman and Wolves
Rising star chef of the year: San Francisco chefs Danny Bowien from Mission Chinese Food and Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water
Outstanding restaurant: Foreign Cinema, Greens and Slanted Door in San Francisco, and Terra in St. Helena
Outstanding restaurateur: Mark and Terri Stark from Santa Rosa and Healdsburg's Stark Reality Restaurants, which include Willi's Wine Bar, Monti's Rotisserie & Bar and Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar
Outstanding service: Michael Mina and Quince in San Francisco and the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena
Outstanding wine program: A16 and Nopa in San Francisco, Press in St. Helena and Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur
Outstanding wine, spirits or beer professional: Jorg Rupf from Alameda's St. George Spirits; John and Kathe Dyson from Williams Selyem Winery and Duncan Meyers and Nathan Roberts from Arnot-Roberts, both in Healdsburg; and Merry Edwards from Merry Edwards Winery and Ted Lemon from Littorai Wines, both in Sebastopol
Best chef, Western states: San Francisco chefs Matthew Accarrino from SPQR, Nicolaus Balla from Bar Tartine, Chris Cosentino from Incanto, Dominique Crenn from Atelier Crenn, Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, Corey Lee from Benu and Daniel Patterson of Coi. The list also includes Michael Chiarello from Yountville's Bottega and Christopher Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena.
The finalists will be announced March 18, and 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.