A Look Back at This Year's SF James Beard Semi-Finalists

It’s that time of year again. Last week, the James Beard Foundation announced the 2016 semi-finalists. On March 15th, the finalists will be chosen. No matter, making any round of the JBFAs is an honor and a privilege to both rising culinary stars and vets who continue to innovate their dishes, cocktails, and/or concepts.

Below, we gather some of the best sound bites from the past year of San Francisco's semi-finalists we have had the privilege of interviewing and filming with. Make sure to check out the full list of semi-finalists here.

William Werner, Craftsman and Wolves, SF
Nominated for: Outstanding Baker

On how he got started in pastry:
“I started out cooking savory, I really enjoyed it. I just delved into all things cooking — books on books on books and research, and worked at a lot of different places, and then ended up working at a small restaurant that was chef-owned that had a pastry chef during the day, and I would go in and help her out a little bit, and I just came to find I really appreciated the focal point of pastry where you can be very conceptualized, even from an architectural standpoint.”

On developing the concept:
“In France and Japan, the pastry shops are very chef-driven, and so are our restaurants here [in SF]. But I wasn’t seeing your local neighborhood bakeries and pastry shops have this kind of style, for lack of a better term.”

Bar Agricole, SF
Nominated for: Outstanding Bar Program

Translated, Bar Agricole means “farm bar,” and the menu changes daily depending on the supply and demand of local ingredients. But it’s not just the cuisine that is affected. Bar Agricole’s cocktails are also modern farm-to-table. Heading up the cocktail program are Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson, with Jai Wilson on all things wine. The cocktail menu includes concoctions like the Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, honey, and bitters), Presidente (white rum, white vermouth, farmhouse curaçao, grenadine, and bitters), and the Bellamy Scotch Sour (blended scotch, lemon, honey, bitters, and egg white).

Trick Dog, SF
Nominated for: Outstanding Bar Program

Nestled in a multi-story townhouse in San Francisco, Trick Dog is a drinking establishment run by The Bon Vivants. The vibe is decidedly homey with a warehouse feel, as a canine-themed neighborhood bar should be. Morgan Schick, the creative director, fell in love with bartending while working as the head chef at a nightclub in Portland.

In the video below, Schick walks us through three out-of-the-box cocktail creations — all named after calendar months and, naturally, dog names — including a drink built around a cheese garnish that includes whiskey, wine and beer.

Check out our coverage on other JBF nominees here