The 2019 James Beard semifinalists have been announced. Here are the East Bay contenders

Seven nominees for the coveted food and drink awards are from Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda.

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 is Nosh editor at Berkeleyside. Email: