Here are the L.A. finalists for the 2022 James Beard Foundation restaurant awards

Chef-owner Wes Avila of Angry Egret Dinette in Chinatown.
Chef-owner Wes Avila of Angry Egret Dinette in Chinatown, a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s best new restaurant award.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

After announcing semifinalists in February — and pausing its chef and restaurant awards in 2020 and 2021 — the James Beard Foundation has revealed its finalists for the 2022 iteration of its restaurant awards.

The short list announced Wednesday includes some of Southern California’s most lauded restaurants and chefs. The winners of the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards, determined by an anonymous panel of judges, will be announced at a ceremony June 13 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Nearly 20 Southern California chefs and restaurants were named semifinalists last month; now, only four remain as nominees. As tends to happen, the long list starts with many California or L.A. names, then loses them in this round as the competition narrows. Greg Dulan, Niki Nakayama and Genever, for example, did not advance to the finals this year.


These L.A. restaurants and chefs are finalists for the prestigious awards after a two-year hiatus and promise of increased equity.

Feb. 23, 2022

Wes Avila’s genre-bending Mexican restaurant, Angry Egret Dinette in Chinatown, is a finalist for best new restaurant, while longtime contender Margarita Manzke of Mid-City’s République is a finalist for outstanding pastry chef; it marks Manzke’s seventh year as a semifinalist or nominee.

Eight L.A.-area chefs were tapped as best chef: California semifinalists; Bryant Ng of Santa Monica’s modern Southeast Asian restaurant Cassia and Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong of Thai Town’s foundational Jitlada are the finalists for 2022.

Margarita Manzke is surrounded by customers inside the dining room of République.
République pastry chef and co-owner Margarita Manzke is a finalist for outstanding pastry chef.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The dearth of the foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards was partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and partly by a call for more transparency, inclusivity and equity within the organization’s awards system. An extensive internal audit led to promises of more diversity, and the 2022 nods by and large reflect this; other recommendations and policy changes for the foundation’s awards and judging systems can be found here.

“After two years of unremitting challenges for our industry ... this year’s Awards offer a wonderful opportunity to gather as a community, look to the future and celebrate those leading the way,” the foundation’s chief executive, Clare Reichenbach, said at Wednesday’s announcement ceremony in Arizona.

Not all 2022 winners have to wait until June 13; in mid-February, Mexican restaurant Casa Vega was named one of six recipients of the James Beard Foundation’s annual America’s Classics Award. The Sherman Oaks restaurant is the only recipient in California this year. Nominees for James Beard Foundation’s the Media Awards will be announced April 27, with winners shared revealed June 11.

The full list of the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees can be found here.