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Here Are Houston’s 2020 James Beard Award Finalists

The city scored two finalists for national awards, and three in the Best Chef: Texas category

Will another Houstonian receive culinary's top honors?
The James Beard Award medal
James Beard Foundation
Amy McCarthy is a staff writer at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

On May 4, the James Beard Foundation announced its list of finalists for this year’s James Beard Awards.

Frequently described as the “Oscars of food,” the James Beard Awards were originally set to announce finalists on March 25, but the date was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. At present, the Foundation has not yet announced a date for its annual awards ceremony, held in Chicago, but has been rescheduled for September 25.

Only two Houston chefs made it through to the round of finalists in the national awards, including a surprise announcement of Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen’s Cook Like A Local, nominated in the American Cookbook category. Houston cocktail institution Anvil Bar & Refuge was also named a finalist for Outstanding Bar Program, following consecutive years of appearing on the Awards’s long and short lists.

In the Best Chef: Texas category, Pondicheri chef Anita Jaisinghani was named a finalist, along with Crawfish & Noodles owner Trong Nguyen. San Antonio chef Steve McHugh (Cured), Austin’s Kevin Fink (Emmer & Rye) and Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie) round out the nominees in that category.

In the long list of semifinalists, Houston scored nine nods for national awards. Chef Christine Ha’s Bravery Chef Hall stall the Blind Goat was listed as a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant, along with Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel’s Heights hotspot Squable. In the statewide Best Chef: Texas category, Kata Robata’s Manabu Horiuchi, Pondicheri chef Anita Jaisinghani, and Nancy’s Hustle chef Jason Vaughan were semifinalists.

The winners will be announced on September 25. Whether that will happen in-person or online remains to be seen.

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

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