Texas could be in for a very good year in the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Award competition, the culinary industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. In the list of semifinalists announced on February 15, Texas chefs and restaurants landed in eight national categories, with another eleven restaurants (representing twelve chefs) vying for honors in the regional contest for Best Chef: Southwest. Winners will be announced in May.
Houston nabbed the most national semifinalists, with four, including Anvil Bar & Refuge (for Outstanding Bar Program), Hugo’s (for Outstanding Service), chef William Wright of Helen Greek Food and Wine (for Rising Star Chef of the Year), and restaurateur Tracy Vaught of Hugo’s, Caracol, and others (for Outstanding Restaurateur).
Next up was Dallas with two national nods: Flora Street Cafe for Outstanding New Restaurant (the chef is Stephan Pyles) and Maggie Huff of FT33 for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Laura Sawicki of Launderette in Austin also got a nod in the Outstanding Pastry Chef competition.
In San Antonio, the Esquire Tavern made it into the Outstanding Bar Program contest.
The eleven Texans in the Southwest chef competition are Omar Flores, Casa Rubia, Dallas; Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin; Manabu Horiuchi, Kata Robata, Houston; Anita Jaisinghani, Pondicheri, Houston; Steve McHugh, Cured, San Antonio; Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston; Teiichi Sakurai, Tei-An Soba House, Dallas; Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, The Pass, Houston; John Tesar, Knife, Dallas; David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas; Jianyun Ye, Mala Sichuan Bistro, Houston.
The Beard Foundation said that the final nominees will be announced on March 15; winners will be announced at the twenty-seventh annual awards gala, to be held May 1 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Check out the full list of finalists here.