A storefront view of Nyum Bai restaurant in Oakland.
Nyum Bai, Nite Yun’s Cambodian restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood is a 2019 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. Photo: Sarah Han

The 2019 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists were announced today, and there are seven East Bay contenders in the running for the following four categories:

Best New Restaurant:

Nyum Bai, Oakland

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer:

Yoshihiro Sako of Den Sake Brewery, Oakland

Lance Winters of St. George Spirits, Alameda

Outstanding Wine Program

Great China, Berkeley

Best Chef: West

Reem Assil of Reem’s California, Oakland

Dominica Rice-Cisneros of Cosecha Café, Oakland

James Syhabout of Commis, Oakland

For this year’s awards, the James Beard Foundation changed its policies and procedures to be more equitable and inclusive, and to be more representative of the racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the restaurant industry. Several new policies have been made, focusing on the representation of its committee members, increasing entry accessibility for participants and increasing the transparency of its judging process.

The James Beard Award restaurant and chef finalists will be announced on March 27 and the winners will be named at the James Beard Awards gala on May 6, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Sarah Han was the editor of Nosh from 2017 to 2021. Previously, she worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In 2020, Sarah won SPJ NorCal's...