On Wednesday, January 24, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its annual awards, which are basically the Oscars for American restaurants. And since the Michelin Guide isn’t here, getting a James Beard Award is one of the few ways a Seattle restaurant, bar, or bakery can get official outside validation that it’s really, really, really, good.
Seattle landed 10 names on the semifinalist list, and it’s a who’s-who of restauranteurs. Quynh-Vy and Yenvy Pham are once again in the running for Outstanding Restaurateur (a category they were a finalist in last year) for their group of restaurants, which includes Pho Bac, the Boat, and Phocific Standard Time. Aaron Verzosa of the Filipino fine dining restaurant Archipelago is on the Outstanding Chef list, the first time he’s been on the list for the national category, though he’s been a a nominee in the Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific category. The Walrus and the Carpenter is up for Outstanding Restaurant, which is no surprise — it was a nominee in the category in 2022, and owner Renee Erickson is a Beard winner with a pile of accolades. Eight Row, an acclaimed Green Lake restaurant known for its innovative nonalcoholic cocktails, is on the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program list.
There are also some new names here: Janet Becerra is a semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category for her celebrated Mexican restaurant Pancita and Ben Campbell (a former Erickson employee) is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker after growing his Ben’s Bread pop-up into one of Seattle’s most line-worthy bakeries. The Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific category is full of the usual suspects but also features Avery Adams of Orcas Island’s Matia Kitchen, Derek Bray of Tacoma’s the Table, and Evan Leichtling of Columbia City’s Off Alley, all first-time semifinalists.
The full list is below:
- Yenvy and Quynh Pham, Phở Bắc Sup Shop, Phởcific Standard Time, and The Boat
- Aaron Verzosa, Archipelago
- The Walrus and the Carpenter
- Janet Becerra, Pancita
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
- Ben Campbell, Ben’s Bread Co.
Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program
- Eight Row
Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific
- Kristi Brown, Communion
- Grayson Corrales, MariPili Tapas Bar
- Evan Leichtling, Off Alley
- Melissa Miranda, Musang
- Avery Adams, Matia Kitchen (on Orcas Island)
- Derek Bray, the Table (in Tacoma)
Correction 1/24 1:36 p.m.: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that Aaron Verzosa had been a semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category before.