San Diego Chef Makes James Beard Award Semifinalist List

January 25, 2023

The James Beard Foundation today announced its Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for the 31st annual James Beard Foundation Awards, and one San Diego chef made the coveted list.

The James Beard Foundation today announced its 2023 finalists, and Chef Jonathan Bautista of Kingfisher modern Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego's Golden Hill is named as a finalist in the Best Chef, California category. Bautista graduated from The Art Institute of California with an Associates of Science in Culinary Arts in 2005, and began his career as a line cook at now-defunct Roy’s in La Jolla. He eventually moved on to become a sous chef at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar under Chef Paul Mccabe before leaving to join the opening team of Michael Voltaggio’s INK in Los Angeles. Bautista returned to San Diego as chef de cuisine of Kitchen 1540 in late 2011, and in late 2013, he became head chef of Georges at the Cove under Chef/Owner Trey Foshee. In 2019, Bautista left Georges and joined Common Theory in Kearny Mesa. 

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards is considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honors, recognizing exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as "a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive." The James Beard Awards further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. 

Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes. No San Diego chef has ever won a James Beard Award. 

The full list of 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists can be found on the James Beard Foundation website. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
For more information about the James Beard Foundation Awards, visit