Chefs from Austin and Houston are among six finalists for a regional chef award from the James Beard Foundation, a competition often described as the Oscars of the restaurant industry. The Texas competitors for Best Chef: Southwest are Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) of Austin (pictured); Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Odd Duck) of Austin; Hugo Ortega (Hugo’s, Caracol) of Houston; and Justin Yu (Oxheart) of Houston.

The other two competitors for the Southwest award are Kevin Binkley (Binkley’s Cave Creek, Arizona) and Martín Rios (Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe, New Mexico).

The finals were announced today, February 24. Winners will be revealed at a black-tie gala in Chicago the evening of Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Celebrity chef and television personality Alton Brown will host the ceremonies. Chef co-chairs of the awards gala are Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless, and Paul Kahan, of Chicago. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday, April 1, through the Beard website.

Texas chefs had been nominated in six other categories, but they did not make it to the finals.

(Photo by Wyatt McSpadden)