Austin's favorite barbecue guru won big Monday night at the 2015 James Beard Awards. Aaron Franklin, pitmaster of world-renowned Franklin Barbecue, was named Best Chef: Southwest.
This was Franklin's first nomination for the award, and he edged out five big culinary talents for the title. Other Texas finalists in the category were Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe and Caracol, Justin Yu of Oxheart and Austin chef Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine.
Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín in Santa Fe and Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s in Cave Creek, Arizona rounded out the finalists.
Last year, the title went to Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, but Houston chefs were denied the opportunity to win back-to -back. It was Ortega's fourth consecutive nomination for the award and Yu's second. (Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan earned a semifinalist nod for their work at The Pass.)
No stranger to the spotlight, Franklin has been a fixture in the media this spring. His new television program, BBQ with Franklin, will soon be appearing on PBS stations across the country, and his new cookbook, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, is a New York Times best seller.