The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2016 Awards — and Houston's restaurants are represented as never before. The awards are considered the Oscars of the culinary world, recognizing chefs, bartenders, restaurant owners, media members and more.
Although the city wasn't able to win back-to-back Best Chef Southwest awards, five Houston chefs will compete for the honor this year. Joining previous finalists Hugo Ortega (Hugo's/Caracol/Backstreet Cafe) and Justin Yu (Oxheart) are Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan for their work at The Pass. Kata Robata chef Manabu Horiuchi earns a semifinalist nomination for the first time since 2012.
Helen Greek Food & Wine earned a nomination in the Best New Restaurant category, joining trendsetters like Shaya in New Orleans, Launderette in Austin, and Wildair in New York City. Other first time nominees include The Pass in the Outstanding Service category and Ortega's business partner (and wife) Tracy Vaught for Outstanding Restaurateur.
Anvil Bar & Refuge earns another nod in Outstanding Bar Program. Both State of Grace owner Ford Fry and Fox Restaurant Concepts owner Sam Fox (True Food Kitchen, North Italia) join Vaught in Outstanding Restaurateur.
The Foundation will announce the finalists in the all categories on Tuesday, March 15. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 2.