Austin Chefs and Restaurants Nab Six Spots on James Beard Awards Semifinalists List

Organic pastry, fusion BBQ, and Caribbean flavors recognized

Kareem El-Ghayesh of KG BBQ holds up a pork chop during a pop-up at Dia's Market in April 2021 (photo by John Anderson)

The 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for the James Beard Awards have been announced, and Austin represents well for a city our size, with six overall.

Three Austinites are listed for best chef of Texas, two of them BBQ chefs. Nominated are the versatile Tavel Bristol-Joseph for his work at the Caribbean Canje; Damien Brockway, founder of the contemporary African-American BBQ trailer Distant Relatives; and Kareem El-Ghayesh of KG BBQ, the Texas-Egyptian-Middle Eastern smoked BBQ fusion spot.

Suerte, nominated for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program. No stranger to the James Beard Awards, La Condesa is nominated for Outstanding Restaurant; and Mariela Camacho of the all-organic Comadre Panadería is nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

The James Beard Awards are generally considered to recognize the best in the national restaurant scene, from fine dining to fast casual, from new talents cooking in their first restaurants, to second or third-generation restaurateurs. The awards are given to those who have “demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” and are peer-nominated.

The 2023 Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists are recognized across 23 categories, including the fresh-out-of-the-oven new award for Outstanding Bakery.

Nominees will be announced on March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on James Beard’s birthday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Read the entire list of nominees here, or focus on the Texas nominees shared below. The statewide semifinalists for the 2023 James Beard Award in their respective categories are:

Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Williams, Lucille’s Hospitality Group, Houston

Outstanding Chef: Junior Borges, Meridian, Dallas; Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen, Xin Chào, Houston

Outstanding Restaurant Presented by Acqua Panna: La Condesa, Austin; Lucia, Dallas

Emerging Chef Presented by S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water: Victoria Elizondo, Cochinita & Co., Houston; Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin, Best Quality Daughter, San Antonio

Best New Restaurant: Don Artemio, Fort Worth; Restaurant Beatrice, Dallas; Tatemó, Houston; Tatsu, Dallas

Outstanding Bakery (new category): La Casita Bakeshop, Richardson; Kuluntu Bakery, Dallas

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería, Austin; Anne Ng, Bakery Lorraine, San Antonio

Outstanding Hospitality Presented by American Airlines: The Local, Abilene; Theodore Rex, Houston

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Nancy’s Hustle, Houston; Suerte, Austin

Outstanding Bar: Las Ramblas, Brownsville; Weathered Souls Brewing Company, San Antonio

Best Chef: Texas

  • Nicola Blaque, The Jerk Shack, San Antonio
  • Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Canje, Austin
  • Damien Brockway, Distant Relatives, Austin
  • Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas
  • Kareem El-Ghayesh, KG BBQ, Austin
  • Jalen Heard, Lane Milne, and Jonny White, Goldee’s Barbecue, Fort Worth
  • Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia, and Sean Wen, Curry Boys BBQ, San Antonio
  • Greg Gatlin, Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston
  • Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston
  • Ai Le, Nam Giao, Houston
  • Olivia López and Jonathan Percival, Molino Olōyō, Dallas
  • Enrique Lozano, El Charlatan, Socorro
  • Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso
  • Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission
  • Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, José, Dallas
  • Regino Rojas, Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas
  • John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio
  • Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin
  • Kiran Verma, Kiran’s, Houston
  • Jon Walter, Chez Sami, Wolfforth

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