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Houston’s Own Hugo Ortega & Jianyun Ye Are James Beard Award Finalists

This is Ortega’s fifth nomination in a row, and Ye’s first.

Hugo Ortega Hot Dish Gallery
Chef Hugo Ortega

As the “Oscars of food,” the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards are hugely important to chefs and restaurateurs. Last month, a number of Houston restaurant professionals and chefs were announced as semi-finalists for the 2017 James Beard Awards. Today, two Houston chefs advanced more step toward winning one of those coveted medals.

Announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles today, Hugo Ortega and Jianyun Ye have both been named finalists in the James Beard Awards’ Best Chef - Southwest category. This nod marks Ortega’s fifth consecutive year as a finalist, which perhaps means that this is finally his year.

Ye’s first nomination just over a year after the opening of a second outpost of his beloved Chinatown staple Mala Sichuan Bistro in Montrose. If you’ve ever dined at either outpost, you know that it’s a well-placed bit of recognition for the chef, who has developed a cult following for his take on Sichuan fare.

Considering that Houston has won the Best Chef - Southwest category two out of the last three years — Chris Shepherd in 2014, Justin Yu in 2016 — there’s a strong chance that Clutch City could bring yet another medal home when the winners are announced at the James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago on May 1.

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