Well, finally! For once, Texas didn’t get skunked by Las Vegas in the finals for the James Beard Awards. Our chefs captured four of the six finalist slots in the category Best Chef: Southwest. And in addition, Houston Chronicle columnist and blogger Alison Cook, who writes Cook’s Tour, made the finals in the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review category. (Her nominated columns discussed Houston restaurants Melange Creperie Cart, Ava Kitchen and Whiskey Bar, and Pondicheri.) The Texas finalists for Best Chef: Southwest are Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks, San Antonio; Bruno Davaillon, Mansion Restaurant at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas; Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston; and Paul Qui, Uchiko, Austin. If Paul wins this, in addition to having won Top Chef: Texas, he may have to hire a body double to distract the paparazzi. (The two non-Texas finalists in the Southwest division are Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s Restaurant, Cave Creek, Arizona; and Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Denver.)
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