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Anvil Bar & Refuge Is Houston’s Lone James Beard Award Finalist

Six local chefs were named semifinalists, but none will be awarded the medal in May

James Beard Foundation Award
Amy McCarthy is a staff writer at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

At a press conference in Philadelphia this morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its 2018 Awards, and no Houston chefs made the final cut in the Best Chef — Southwest category.

The shutout comes as a real shock after Houston’s intially strong showing this year. When the James Beard Awards’ list of semifinalists was announced back in February, six Houston chefs were named in the Best Chef — Southwest category, including Pondicheri’s Anita Jaisinghani, Crawfish & Noodles’ Trong Nguyen, and Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Steakhouse. Now, the following five chefs will go on to compete for the medal, won by Houston’s own Hugo Ortega in 2017.

Scope out the list of 2018 James Beard Award nominees in the Best Chef — Southwest category:

  • Michael Fojtasek, Olamaie (Austin)
  • Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine (Austin)
  • Steve McHugh, Cured (San Antonio)
  • Martin Rios, Restaurant Martin (Santa Fe)
  • Alex Seidel, Mercantile (Denver)

On the bright side, beloved Montrose bar Anvil Bar & Refuge is a finalist in the Outstanding Bar Program category, but Xochi will not compete for the Best New Restaurant medal. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse did not make the cut for Oustanding Wine Program, and Aqui pastry chef Jill Bartoleme was not a finalist in the Oustanding Pastry Chef category. Hugo’s, a semifinalist in the Outstanding Service Category, also did not make it to the list of finalists.

The James Beard Awards will be presented on May 7 in Chicago.