It’s Wednesday, January 25, and the committee that composes the James Beard Foundation has revealed its “long list” of names under consideration for nominations for awards — roughly a month earlier than usual. And, while the timing may be a bit of a surprise, the fact that the semifinalists for medals include some of Houston’s top chefs, restaurants, and bars is hardly a shock.
So who made the cut? Tatemó is in consideration for best new restaurant. Chris Williams of Lucille’s Hospitality Group is getting a well-deserved nod for outstanding restaurateur. In the outstanding chef category are Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen of Xin Chào, while Victoria Elizondo is in the running for emerging chef based on work at Cochinita & Co. Theodore Rex is also a potential candidate in the category of outstanding hospitality and Nancy’s Hustle is a semifinalist for outstanding wine and other beverages program.
As for the best chef, Texas category, Houston names being considered include Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ, Benchawan Jabthong Painter from Street to Kitchen, Ai Le from Nam Giao, and Kiran Verma of Kiran’s.
Houston’s exceptional and emerging dining scene received a huge vote of confidence in 2022 when cocktail bar Julep won an award for outstanding bar program; it was the first time Houston had been honored with an award in a national category at the Beards. Chefs Hugo Ortega, Justin Yu, Chris Shepherd, and Robert Del Grande earned medals in past years in regional categories.
Elsewhere, Texas also had a robust showing with Dallas’s Restaurant Beatrice, Don Artemio, and Tatsu all in the mix for best new restaurant. San Antonio’s Best Quality Daughter is named in the emerging chef category.
Considered the Oscars of the restaurant world, the James Beard Awards takes place this year at a gala event hosted in Chicago on Monday, June 5. The names of the official nominees in restaurant and chef categories, whittled down from this long list, will be announced on Wednesday, March 29. Nevertheless, being considered is an enormous honor and a feather in the cap for many food industry professionals.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.