The James Beard Foundation today announced the semifinalists for its 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards, and Houston showed up big with nine nominees across several categories. The prestigious awards recognize honor the top chefs, restaurants, wine professionals, journalists, cookbook authors, restaurant designers, and other food professionals in the United States.
Six Houston chefs got the nod for the best chef Southwest award, which Oxheart’s Justin Yu brought back to Houston last year. Included in the 2017 list are: Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri, Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s, Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass, and Jianyun Ye of Mala Sichuan Bistro. Horiuchi, Ortega and Siegel-Gardner and Gallivan all have been nominated in previous years.
Tracy Vaught, Ortega’s business partner and wife, made the list once again this year in the Outstanding Restaurateur category for H Town Restaurant Group, which manages Hugo’s, Caracol, Backstreet Cafe, and the newly opened Xochi. She was a semifinalist last year. Hugo’s was also a semifinalist in the Outstanding Service category.
Other semifinalists include chef William Wright of Helen Greek Food and Wine in the Rising Star Chef of the Year and Anvil Bar & Refuge made the list for the sixth time in the Outstanding Bar Program category.
We’ll have to wait until March 15 to find out who makes the finalists cut. Award winners will be announced at a gala in Chicago on May 1.