The James Beard Foundation, the nation’s best-known culinary organization, released the list of semifinalists for its prestigious annual chef and restaurant awards on Wednesday. Texas made a highly respectable showing, with twenty individuals or restaurants making the cut. Finalists will be announced on March 15, and the winners on May 2 at the Beard Foundation’s awards ceremony and gala in Chicago, widely and justifiably described as the Oscars of the restaurant industry.
In the Best New Restaurant category, Texas semifinalists are Launderette in Austin, and Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston. For Outstanding Chef, Tyson Cole of Uchi, with locations in Austin, Houston, and Dallas, was given a nod.
Two Texans were recognized in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category: Grae Nonas of Austin’s Olamaie and Misti Norris of Dallas’ Small Brewpub. Laura Sawicki of Austin’s Launderette received a place on the list for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Houston’s Tracy Vaught (of Hugo’s, Caracol, and Backstreet) got a slot in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Also in Houston, the Pass was singled out in the Outstanding Service category.
Outstanding Bar Program semifinalists include Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston. The Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas, in Irving, was noted for Outstanding Wine Program.
In the Best Chef: Southwest category, Texan semifinalists include Omar Flores of Casa Rubia in Dallas, Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine in Austin, Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata in Houston, Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas, Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio, Hugo Ortega of Caracol and Hugo’s in Houston, Teiichi Sakurai of Tei-An in Dallas, Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of the Pass in Houston, David Uygur of Lucia in Dallas, and Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston.
The 2016 James Beard Awards Gala, hosted by chef Carla Hall of ABC’s The Chew, will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2. See the full list of semifinalists here.