Locals Garner James Beard Award Nominations
Several local chefs were nominated for the 2017 James Beard Foundation Award, a prestigious epicurean honor often shorthanded as the “Oscars of the food world.”
Michael Cimarusti of Providence just north of Hancock Park on Melrose Avenue, Ludo Lefebvre of the Hancock Park-adjacent Trois Mec on Highland Avenue and Silver Lake’s Trois Familia were each nominated for Best Chef of the West.
The category pitted the chefs against each other and versus Jeremy Fox of the Santa Monica restaurant Rustic Canyon; Travis Lett of the Venice eatery Gjelina and counterparts at a pair of San Francisco establishments: Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn and Corey Lee at Benu.
Benu’s Lee won the award.
In other categories, Margarita Manzke of La Brea Avenue’s République was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef alongside national rivals from New York, Cambridge, New Orleans and Birmingham, Alabama.
Ultimately, Manzke—who co-owns Republique with husband and chef Walter Manzke—lost the category to Ghaya Oliveira of Daniel in New York.
The James Beard Awards have been doled out every year at the start of May since 1990.
Named after “the Dean of American Cookery,” late cookbook author James Beard, the New York-based James Beard Foundation was formed in 1986 by Peter Kump, a former student of Beard’s and the founder of New York’s Institute of Culinary Education.
The 2017 winners were announced at a May 1 black-tie ceremony in Chicago hosted by “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
The James Beard Foundation also honored Suzanne Goin with the 2017 Who’s Who award.
Goin, in past years a multiple James Beard award-winner, is the chef—with partner Caroline Styne— behind Angeleno favorites A.O.C. Wine Bar in Beverly Grove, Lucques in West Hollywood and Tavern in Brentwood.
“It truly is an amazing and somewhat of a daunting honor to be included with so many incredibly talented people some of them former chefs of mine and others who are heroes I have worshiped for years,” Goin said in an interview, ticking off such luminary culinary figures as Julia Child, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Judy Rogers, Nancy Silverton and Jacques Pépin. “It feels surreal to be included on the list with them.”
The foundation named Goin as Outstanding Chef Lucques last year.
Goin said the awards attention is exciting but ultimately she said she wants to “keep cooking the foods I love and working with my beloved staff. That’s my biggest professional reward.”
Goin said she prefers to follow her own epicurean muse rather than bow to citywide trends.
The chef also said that while the neighborhoods at each of their locations do set the stage for her and partner Styne’s endeavors, they do not have as big as an influence on the implementations of the restaurants and its menus as much as the buildings the partners select.
“Caroline and I tend to look for spaces in neighborhoods that we love or find buildings that we love,” Goin said.
With Lucques, the pair had their figurative eye on the building two years before they signed the lease.
“We loved how it felt like a rustic cottage and we loved the raw materials—the wood rafters, the worn bricks and the feeling that it had been there for years and years,” Goin said.
“Even our move of A.O.C. [from W. Third Street and Crescent Heights to the current Beverly Boulevard location formerly occupied by Orso and il Covo] was more building-related than neighborhood-related,” Goin said.
“But after 10 years, we felt like the Old World feel [of the new space on Beverly Boulevard] and the garden. . . really worked better with our food,” Goin said.
Most recently, Goin and Styne partnered with the France’s “Sodexo” to provide fine dining at the Hollywood Bowl.
Goin said Los Angeles’ dining scene has changed so much since she and Styne opened Lucques nearly two decades ago.
“[There has never] never been so many small, interesting, chef-driving, eclectic and diverse restaurants in Los Angeles,” Goin said.
[CORRECTION: The print version of this story incorrectly named Who’s Who of American Food and Beverage Award winner Suzanne Goin as the host of KCRW’s “Good Food.” The radio program is hosted by Evan Kleiman, who also received the award. We regret the error.]