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Houston Makes Seriously Strong Showing Among 2020’s James Beard Award Semi-Finalists

See who’s up for Best Chef: Texas, Best New Restaurant, and more

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

Today, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its prestigious annual awards, and as usual, Houston made a seriously strong showing.

Frequently described as the “Oscars of food,” this year’s line-up of James Beard Award semi-finalists includes both newcomers and repeat nominees from Houston. Restaurateurs Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel’s much-lauded Heights restaurant Squable is up for the national Best New Restaurant award, along with Masterchef winner Christine Ha’s stall inside Bravery Chef Hall, The Blind Goat. Also nominated for national awards are Anvil Bar & Refuge, in the Outstanding Bar Program category, and Rosie Cannonball, for Outstanding Wine Program.

Scope out the full list of Houston-based semi-finalists for national awards below:

  • Rising Star Chef of the Year — Kaitlin Steets, Theodore Rex
  • Outstanding Wine Program — Rosie Cannonball
  • Outstanding Restaurateur — Tracy Vaught
  • Outstanding Restaurant — The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
  • Outstanding Hospitality — Hugo’s
  • Outstanding Chef — Justin Yu, Theodore Rex
  • Outstanding Bar Program — Anvil Bar & Refuge
  • Best New Restaurant — The Blind Goat and Squable

In the brand new Best Chef: Texas category, Houston chefs seriously dominated the long list. Kulture’s Dawn Burrell is up for the award, along with Kata Robata’s Manabu Horiuchi, Pondicheri chef Anita Jaisinghani, Crawfish & Noodles’s Trong Nguyen, and Jason Vaughan of Nancy’s Hustle.

Per, this “long list” will be whittled down to five finalists in each category on March 25. Stay tuned to see who makes the cut.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.