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Humbled Owner Of SF’s The Slanted Door Accepts James Beard Award For Outstanding Restaurant

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco gastrophiles can rejoice with the announcement of the 2014 James Beard Award winners. The Slanted Door, known for modern Vietnamese cooking, won the award for Outstanding Restaurant.

Located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the restaurant’s owner and executive chef, Charles Phan, said he was “in shock” over what is often considered “The Oscars of food”.

The Slanted Door emerged victorious against field eateries from across America. Only one restaurant in the country per year is selected, serving as a national standard bearer for consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service.

“It’s vote by your peers, so they don’t tell you until you get nominated,” Phan said. “You’re up against four other people. It’s amazing and thrilling for us to receive this award. We just can’t be happier for the family and the staff.”

The company will turn 20 years old this October and in that span, the restaurant has moved from the Mission District to its current Embarcadero location. “I signed my lease in 1994 and opened in 1995,” he said.

Phan attributed part of his success to the location as well as the farmers he sources his food from.

“I don’t think I can build this restaurant in any other city besides San Francisco. When I first opened I was praying I would make $200 a day. That would keep me alive for a year.”

Looking ahead, Phan said he’s started to panic because now his restaurant has to be better than ever. “There’s a lot of weight in this,” he said. “It’s not like the Best Picture. You already made the picture. You can’t go back and change it. It doesn’t matter what we did yesterday. It’s all about today.”

He speculated that maybe some new China or glassware may be in order to keep up with guest’s expectations. But the reality is that most of all, it comes down to the food. “It’s in our blood to feed people and make people happy.”

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