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James Beard names 18 L.A. chefs and restaurants as semifinalists for 2024 awards

Some of the top chefs in Los Angeles are in the running for some of the country’s most prestigious culinary honors. Each year the James Beard Foundation Awards recognize a bevy of chefs, restaurateurs, beverage professionals, bakers and beyond. Wednesday morning the foundation released the list of semifinalists for 2024, the first round of nods that will eventually culminate in an awards ceremony to be held June 10 in Chicago.

A number of 2024’s Los Angeles semifinalists appeared on last year’s list, including Greg Dulan of South L.A.’s Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Dulan’s on Crenshaw and Dulanville, who was a contender in the outstanding restaurateur category not only in 2023 but also in 2022.

Rashida Holmes of Caribbean pop-up — and soon to be restaurant — Bridgetown Roti was a nominee in last year’s emerging chef category but this year is a semifinalist for outstanding chef along with Jeremy Fox of Santa Monica’s Birdie G’s and the Rustic Canyon Family restaurant group. Also in the Rustic Canyon Family is Esters Wine Shop & Bar, which is, like last year, up for outstanding bar.

Husband-and-wife team Alessandro Zecca and Danielle Duran-Zecca blend Mexican and Italian cuisine at Amiga Amore in Highland Park.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

The year also sees some contenders new to the awards, including Danielle Duran-Zecca and Alessandro Zecca of Highland Park’s Amiga Amore in the category of emerging chefs. Nearby, Cypress Park’s Barra Santos, from the restaurant group behind Found Oysters and Queen St., is the only Southern California spot in the running for best new restaurant. Hollywood Thai mainstay Luv2Eat Thai Bistro also garnered its first James Beard Foundation commendation, in the outstanding hospitality division.

The heritage-grain-driven Gusto Bread, in Long Beach has earned its first Beard Foundation nod as the only California semifinalist in the outstanding bakery category, while Nicole Rucker of Fat & Flour — with a stall in Grand Central Market and a new cafe in Culver City — is a semifinalist in the category of outstanding pastry chef or baker. She was previously nominated in the foundation’s media awards, which are held separately, for her 2019 cookbook “Dappled.”

Poltergeist's Diego Argoti is a semifinalist for best chef: California.

Poltergeist’s Diego Argoti is a semifinalist for best chef: California.

(Ron De Angelis/For The Times)

Multiple L.A.-area chefs are semifinalists for best chef: California, which was won last year by Justin Pichetrungsi, chef of L.A. Times restaurant of 2022 Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks. In 2024, Diego Argoti of Poltergeist in Echo Park could take the honor, as could Alex Garcia and Elvia Huerta of pop-up Evil Cooks; Dima Habibeh of Ammatoli in Long Beach; Jihee Kim of Perilla in Victor Heights; Alfonso “Poncho” Martinez of Poncho’s Tlayudas in Historic South-Central; Lord Maynard Llera of Kuya Lord in Melrose Hill; Michael Procaccini and Stefano Procaccini of La Parolaccia in Long Beach; Alisa Reynolds of My 2 Cents in Mid-Wilshire; or Christian Yang of Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra.

No Los Angeles-area businesses were named as semifinalists in the outstanding restaurant category this year, nor the category of outstanding wine or other beverages program. Near Los Angeles County, Anaheim tiki bar Strong Water is a semifinalist for outstanding wine or other beverages program, while Tara Monsod of San Diego’s Animae is up for best chef: California.

The 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards nominees will be announced in April, with the winners shared at the awards ceremony on June 10 at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The full list of 2024 semifinalists can be found here.

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