2022 James Beard Award semifinalists include Greg Dulan, Niki Nakayama and more L.A. names

Two men work in a restaurant kitchen.
Terry Dulan, left, in the kitchen with his brother Greg Dulan at Dulan’s Crenshaw location.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

After pausing its prestigious restaurant awards in 2020 and 2021, the James Beard Foundation on Wednesday announced its semifinalists for 2022 with a long list that features some notable L.A. contenders.

The list arrives in the wake of an internal audit and a reckoning over the James Beard Foundation’s Awards practices, diversity and accessibility, which led to promises of systemic improvements.

Greg Dulan of the iconic Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, which operates three restaurants in South L.A., is a semifinalist in the category of outstanding restaurateur. Post & Beam, a South L.A. stalwart and recipient of the 2020 Los Angeles Times Gold Award, is in the running for restaurant honors. Niki Nakayama, of Palms’ lauded n/naka, is a semifinalist for outstanding chef, her seventh time on that shortlist.

Two women in chef's whites, seated side by side at a table.
Chef Niki Nakayama, left, and sous chef Carole Iida-Nakayama of n/naka.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

This year’s semifinalists list exhibits a notably richer range of styles, ethnicities, cuisines and price points, perhaps a nod to the findings of the 2021 audit, which resulted in a promise of increased equity in its awards and policies going forward. Changes such as replacing the Rising Star category with Emerging Chef and removing the age cap for the award also are reflected in this year’s list. (A comprehensive guide to the foundation’s policy recommendations can be found here.)

Each year the James Beard Awards celebrate new restaurants and chefs, and in 2022 L.A. is represented by Casey Felton of Hollywood’s Banh Oui in the emerging chef category. Chinatown’s Angry Egret Dinette, from Guerrilla Tacos founder and Ka’teen chef Wes Avila, is a semifinalist for best new restaurant.

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In baking, longtime nominee Margarita Manzke of Mid-City’s République is a semifinalist in the pastry chef category, while Joseph, Archalous and Caroline Geragosian of Pasadena’s Old Sasoon Bakery are semifinalists for outstanding baker.

Historic Filipinotown bar Genever is a semifinalist in the bar program category; the cocktail lounge from owners Roselma Samala, Patricia Perez and Christine Sumiller focuses on gin as well as house-made syrups and tinctures.

While L.A.-area chefs and restaurants sparsely populated the categories in this year’s preliminary list, they accounted for nearly half of the Best Chef: California contenders.

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Semifinalists on that list are Keith Corbin of Alta Adams in West Adams; Tony Ho of Rosemead’s Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant; Judept Irra of Bell Gardens’ Tamales Elena y Antojitos; Bryant Ng of Santa Monica’s Cassia; Natalia Pereira of downtown’s Woodspoon; Minh Phan of Hollywood’s Phenakite; Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai Cuisine in Sherman Oaks; and Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong of Thaitown institution Jitlada. Farther south, Carlos Salgado of Costa Mesa’s Taco María received a semifinalist nomination, as did Anthony Wells of San Diego’s Juniper and Ivy.


Finalists will be named on March 16, and the winners will be announced on June 13 at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Last week Sherman Oaks’ Casa Vega was named one of six recipients of the James Beard Foundation’s annual America’s Classics Award. The full list of the 2022 semifinalists can be found here.