Filipina pastry chef Margarita Manzke has just been named a semifinalist in this year’s James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Pastry Chef category. 

Born and raised in the Philippines, the co-owner of the LA-based restaurant République studied pastry at London’s Le Cordon Bleu, after which she enrolled in New York’s  Culinary Institute of America where she received her degree in culinary arts. Manzke’s interest in food started early—she loved to bake as a kid and grew up accustomed to the workings of a restaurant kitchen as her parents owned White Rock Resort, a hotel and restaurant in Subic.

Manzke has worked in a number of restaurants in Los Angeles, including Spago and Patina. She’s also known as the co-owner of Wildflour Cafe + Bakery, which she founded in 2012 with sister Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo.

In 2014, Manzke was named by LA Weekly as Best Pastry Chef for her work at République. “The space, the sommelier and the food all excel. But what we love most at République are the offerings of Margarita Manzke in her role as pastry chef.”

This isn’t the first time the James Beard Foundation has recognized Manzke’s talents. In 2017 and 2018, she was a finalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category.

Dubbed “the Oscars of food,” the James Beard Awards recognizes some of USA’s best restaurants and most promising culinary talents. A voting committee will soon be removing five finalist nominees per category, which will be announced on Mar. 27.