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

Across the Bar's Best Footage of 2015

This season’s “Across the Bar” has been our sexiest season yet. From San Francisco to Boston, this year took us in front of some of the most innovative cocktails, prepared by mastermind mixologists whose unique crafted cocktails dazzled us to the very last sip.

In this compilation video, brought to you by the Foodable Network, we invite viewers back into some of the most epic drinking experiences of 2015 — from San Francisco’s Trick Dog, where we drank a bourbon concoction garnished with a complimentary cube of sharp cheddar, to Chicago, where Bar Takito and the Aviary showed us their creative (and scientific) chops. Bar Takito’s Adam Weber explores tea-infused cocktails, and the Aviary’s Micah Melton takes us on a full-sensory journey at the establishment’s cocktail lab.

Watch the full episode to learn more!

San Francisco’s Trick Dog Knows No Creative Limits

Obscurely nestled in a multi-story townhouse in San Francisco lies Trick Dog, a James Beard nominated drinking establishment run by The Bon Vivants. The vibe is decidedly homey with a warehouse feel, as a canine-themed neighborhood bar should be.

In this episode of “Across the Bar,” brought to you by the Foodable Network, we are joined by Morgan Schick, the creative director at Trick Dog/The Bon Vivants, who fell in love with bartending while working as the head chef at a nightclub in Portland.

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.

How does Schick develop ideas for new drinks? What ingredient combinations are staples at Trick Dog? And how does the bar expedite service without sacrificing drink quality? Watch the full episode to find out!

Sneak Peek: Odd Drink Inspiration at San Francisco’s Trick Dog

There are many winning parts to a solid cocktail but perhaps the most overlooked property is one that doesn’t necessarily exist, so to speak: lack of boundaries. Cocktail innovation that truly inspires is new, fresh, and seemingly original — even if it was repurposed, shaken up, and influenced by an existing cocktail trend.

At James Beard nominated Trick Dog, a bar housed in a trendy warehouse in San Francisco, there are no rules. In this sneak peek, Bar Manager Morgan Schick shows us what he’s got up his sleeve. Drinks inspired by calendar months, and a cocktail that pairs with cheese garnish? Check, check.

Stay tuned for the full “Across the Bar” episode, coming soon!