JBF Award Winners: Pacific/Southwest

James Beard Foundation · San Francisco Top 10 Guide · created about 7 years ago

Since 1991 the James Beard Foundation has been honoring the best chefs and restaurants in the country with the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. For this guide we asked past JBF Award winners from our regional Best Chef in America categories about the food at their own restaurants. They told us, in their own words, what their favorites dishes are and which foods best represent their culinary style.

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    Into The Vegetable Garden at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, CA

    Its components are always changing, but the rule for this unique dish remains the same: “If it isn’t from the garden it can’t be on the plate.” A dish like this is simple for a chef like David Kinch, our 2010 Best Chef: Pacific winner. At Manresa, the biodynamic vegetables are grown exclusively for them by Cynthia Sandberg's Love Apple Farm in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains and harvested each morning for the evening’s menu. “The dish contains up to 40 different products from the garden,” explains Kinch, “In raw or cooked forms, purées, seeds, flowers, leaves, etc. and it is always changing. It is an edible reflection of the garden on a plate.”

  • Hoffman Ranch Hen, Roasted Artichokes, Chantenay Carrots, and Pèrigord Truffles at Jardiniere Restaurant in San Francisco, CA

    Jardinière has been a mainstay of San Francisco fine dining for more than a decade, but the food remains fresh thanks to 2007 Best Chef: Pacific winner Traci Des Jardins. Classically trained under some of France’s most renowned chefs, Des Jardins deftly combines the elegance of French technique with the vibrant seasonality of California’s produce. Her Hoffman Ranch hen is a perfect example of this cooking philosophy.

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    Grilled Fresh Calamari with Warm White Bean Salad at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, CA

    Craig Stoll, the 2008 winner of the Best Chef: Pacific award, cooks Italian food with a Californian sensibility. Grilled calamari with warm white bean salad is always on the menu at Delfina because, he explains, “it exemplifies our cooking style and approach to food—combining just a few ingredients with straightforward technique to produce a dish that transcends the sum of its parts.”

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    La Langoustine at Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas, NV

    The winner of the 2010 award for Best Chef: Southwest, Claude Le Tohic masterfully executes the cuisine of legendary chef Joël Robuchon. The French dishes you’ll find on the menu are rooted in classic technique but are refined and elevated with modern, minimalist influences. The truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage is almost always on the menu as it is one of the dishes that helped to cement Robuchon’s reputation as one of the best chefs in the world.

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    Le Purée de Pommes de Terre at Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas, NV

    After tasting these decadent mashed potatoes you’ll never think of the potato as humble again. A staple at Robuchon’s restaurants, the mashed potatoes are served in individual cocottes and come with every main course. The ratio of potato to butter is nearly one to one, but don’t let that stop you from devouring every last bite of this amazing dish.