Apr 3, 2024 - Food and Drink

Chef Tara Monsod is San Diego's first-ever James Beard Award finalist

Chef Tara Monsod wears a white apron and leans on a booth in the restaurant Animae.

San Diego chef Tara Monsod is a James Beard finalist. Photo: James Tran, courtesy of Puffer Malarkey Collective

Animae's executive chef Tara Monsod is among five finalists for the 2024 James Beard Awards in the category for Best Chef: California.

Why it matters: Monsod is the first San Diego chef to be named a finalist for the prestigious culinary awards known as the Oscars of the restaurant world.

  • Other local chefs have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, but none have reached the finals.

What they're saying: "This is only the beginning — we're going to keep pushing the culture and industry forward," Monsod said in a statement to Axios.

  • She said she's "grateful and honored" and thanked her team, family, friends and community.

Dig in: Monsod brings Filipino flavors to the kitchen at Animae, an upscale Wagyu steakhouse and Asian-fusion restaurant near the waterfront downtown.

Later this spring, Monsod will also become executive chef at Le Coq, a French steakhouse opening in La Jolla.

What's next: Winning chefs and restaurants will be announced at the James Beard Awards ceremony on June 10 in Chicago.

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