These L.A. chefs and restaurants are finalists for the 2023 James Beard Foundation Awards

Blood clams on the half shell with morita sauce
Holbox’s Gilberto Cetina Jr., who serves Yucatán-style seafood such as blood clams on the half shell with morita sauce, is a finalist for the best chef in California.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

More than a half-dozen of Los Angeles’ top chefs, bakers, restaurants and beverage programs were named finalists for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards on Wednesday morning, placing Ototo, Greg Dulan of Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, République’s Margarita Manzke and others in the running for the country’s most renowned annual food accolades.

Nearly 20 L.A.-area restaurateurs, chefs and establishments were named as semifinalists in January, in the James Beard Foundation’s first round of announcements for the 2023 awards ceremony. Nine have now advanced to the finalist category, with winners to be announced in Chicago on June 5.

Niki Nakayama of Palms kaiseki destination n/naka and the West Adams izakaya spot n/soto is a finalist for the outstanding chef category. Dulan — of Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Dulan’s on Crenshaw, and Dulanville, a new food truck partnership with Hotville Chicken — is a contender for outstanding restaurateur. Last year both Nakayama and Dulan were named semifinalists but did not advance as nominees.

Chef-owner Brandon Hayato Go keeps a watchful eye over Hayato's multicourse dinners.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Gilberto Cetina Jr., who serves inventive and classic Yucatán-style seafood at Historic South-Central’s Holbox, is a finalist for the category of best chef in California, as are Brandon Hayato Go, of Arts District kaiseki gem Hayato (No. 1 on the most recent L.A. Times 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. list), and Justin Pichetrungsi of Sherman Oaks’ inventive and buzzing Anajak Thai (L.A. Times 2022 restaurant of the year). Farther south, Carlos Salgado of Costa Mesa’s lauded Taco María (L.A. Times 2018 restaurant of the year) is again a contender in the category.

Echo Park izakaya Ototo, heralded for its sake program, pairings and educational events, is a nominee for outstanding wine and other beverages program, while Margarita Manzke of République, now in her eighth year as a semifinalist or finalist, is a nominee for outstanding pastry chef or baker.

A newer category, emerging chef, sees one L.A.-area chef nominated this year: Rashida Holmes, a Rustic Canyon and Botanica vet whose vibrant Caribbean pop-up, Bridgetown Roti, has regularly garnered local accolades, including a place on the L.A. Times 2022 101 List.

Holmes, a first-time Beard Foundation nominee, learned she was in the running Wednesday morning when the foundation tagged her on Instagram.

“What a nice way to wake up,” she said in a phone interview from bed shortly after the announcement. The accolade, Holmes says, came as a surprise; just before the January reveal of the year’s semifinalists, the Bridgetown Roti team held a meeting discussing the dream of a someday-accolade from the culinary group.


“I wrote on our vision board, ‘It’d be nice for us to get a James Beard nomination one day,’” she said. “I didn’t mean two days from then! It’s pretty exciting. It has always been kind of a goal to be recognized by James Beard [Foundation] — I think it’s one of those organizations that people really respect what they do and respect who they honor and I’m just happy to be included. I’m ecstatic. It feels a little surreal.”

Rashida Holmes, chef and owner of Bridgetown Roti, stands in an apron against a brick wall
Rashida Holmes, chef and owner of Bridgetown Roti, stands just outside her kitchen located inside Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

It’s been a busy year for Holmes, who amid the nomination and running Bridgetown Roti as a weekend-only pop-up is planning to open her first bricks-and-mortar restaurant. The chef-founder hopes the new Bridgetown Roti will open in East Hollywood, at 850 N. Vermont Ave., by the end of the year, though it could be early 2024.

For now, Angelenos can get a taste of Holmes’ roti, patties, doubles and more from Friday to Sunday with pickup at Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District, and watch for Holmes on the livestream — she’ll definitely be attending the Chicago awards ceremony in June, she says, if not just for the nomination, then the chance to eat around the city.

Nominees for the foundation’s annual media awards will be announced April 26 in New York City, with winners of both restaurant and media accolades revealed June 5 at a ceremony held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The full list of the 2023 restaurant and chef awards finalists can be found here.