As they say, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that three Texas chefs are final nominees for the James Beard Foundation awards for Best Chef: Southwest--they are Bruce Auden (Biga on the Banks, San Antonio); Bryan Caswell (Reef, Houston); and Tyson Cole (Uchi, Austin). That's three out of five slots, which is impressive. And several Texas food writers and bloggers are nominees for the Beard Foundation's journalism and book awards, which I'll get to in a minute.
The bad news is that no Texas restaurants or chefs made it to the finals in the REALLY big Beard awards like Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Restaurateur, or Rising Star Chef of the Year (the equivalent of Best Director and Best Picture in the Oscars). That hurts. Once again, the finalists come predominantly from New York, LA, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Which, of course, I understand. But that doesn't mitigate the disappointment.
OK, OK, enough whining. Here are the rest of the Texas-based folks nominated in other areas: Diana Kennedy (who lives part time in Austin) is nominated for the Best International Cookbook award for her Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy (UT Press). Rick Bragg, Francine Maroukian, and Robb Walsh are nominated for the article "The Southerner's Guide to Oysters" in Garden & Gun magazine. Hanna Raskin, formerly of Dallas, is nominated for her posts in the blog "City of Ate" in the Dallas Observer's online edition. Alice Laussade is nominated for the humorous article "OK, Who Put Food in My Beer?" in the Dallas Observer. Katherine Shilcutt is nominated for "Designer Meats" in the Houston Press.
When will we find out who won? The winners of the restaurant awards will be announced Monday, May 9, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The winners of the book, broadcast & journalism awards will be announced at Escape in New York City on Friday, May 6. Wanna go to the May 9 deal? Sure thing. It's open to the public; tickets are $450 a person, $400 if you're a member of the Beard Foundation. A complete list of nominees can be found a www.JBFAwards.com.
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