Oakland restauranteur named James Beard Award finalist for best chef in California

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Thursday, April 4, 2024
Oakland chef named James Beard Award finalist for best chef in CA
Oakland Chef Geoff Davis, owner of Burdell restaurant, is one of five finalists for the coveted James Beard Award for best chef in California.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An Oakland chef by the name of Geoff Davis is one of five finalists for the coveted James Beard Award for best chef in California. Davis is the head chef and owner at Burdell in Oakland.

As we arrived at the restaurant, a server was bringing fried chicken to a patron in the front. Chef Davis was busy at work in the back.

"Soul food but kind of modernized with a little bit of California twist to it," Davis said.

It sure does look good, even though it's sometimes hard to keep up with Chef Davis, who was often rushing from the back to the front and vice versa when we were there.

Guess it makes sense, because seven months after the restaurant opened, Davis is now up for the James Beard Award. It's said to be like the Oscars of cooking awards.

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"Definitely really humbled by it, super exciting to get recognized for what we do here every day," Davis said.

Yes, Davis is modest, but those we spoke with like, Bryan So, didn't hold back. So was a big fan on his first night at the restaurant.

"My favorite today is the BBQ shrimp. The BBQ sauce is not like any BBQ sauce out there," So said.

Not all the stories in Oakland have been positive lately, as many have tackled recent crime issues. But that doesn't matter to Davis, who says it was important for him to open up his restaurant in Oakland.

"It's a very community-driven place and has a little chip on its shoulder compared to San Francisco, but that's kind of a good thing. We're hustlers. Like, we are people that are really driven to make our little corner of the world a little bit better," Davis said.

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Davis will now travel to Chicago in June for the awards ceremony. It's a couple months away yes, but judging by business at the restaurant on Wednesday, he'll probably be pretty busy until then.

"I hope they do well, and we will be back," So said.

"Is it important to win?" we asked Davis, to which he replied, "No, I'm just happy to be here. Happy just to be there."

You can learn more about the James Beard Awards here.

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