The James Beard Foundation is coming to Houston. The organization will announce the finalists for its annual awards, considered the Oscars of the culinary world, live from Hugo's in Montrose on Wednesday, March 27 at 9 am.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, will co-host the press conference and corresponding breakfast, which will be streamed online via the Beard Foundation website. The awards will be presented in Chicago on Monday, May 6. The list of semifinalists will be revealed on Wednesday, February 27.
“We’re thrilled to showcase the city of Houston and bring our 2019 James Beard Awards nominees announcement to this diverse and vibrant culinary and dining scene,” Reichenbach said in a statement. “The city of Houston’s dedication to cultivating and embracing its local restaurants and culinary talent make it the perfect community for such an occasion.”
In addition to the awards announcement, an all-star roster of Houston's most talented chefs will unite for a special benefit dinner that will be held at Caracol the night before the press conference (March 26).
Hosted by Caracol owners Tracy Vaught and Hugo Ortega, the meal will feature entrees prepared by Ortega, Chris Shepherd, Justin Yu, and Robert Del Grande — all of whom have won the Beard award for Best Chef: Southwest. In addition, Bobby Heugel, a Beard nominee for Anvil Bar & Refuge, will serve cocktails, and Beard semifinalist nominees Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan (The Pass & Provisions) and Anita Jaisinghani (Pondicheri) will serve canapes with Beard winner Irma Galvan, whose downtown restaurant Irma's Original earned a James Beard America's Classic award in 2008, and Himalaya chef-owner Kaiser Lashkari — who hasn't been nominated for a Beard award yet but probably should be. Rounding out the roster is Sean Beck, beverage director for Ortega and Vaught's restaurants, and Ortega's brother Ruben, who will serve dessert. See the full menu here.
The event will benefit James Beard Foundation National Scholars Program, which provides "$20,000 scholarships to 10 candidates from across the U.S., who demonstrate the potential for leadership roles in culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management, and related fields," according to the Beard Foundation website.
Needless to say, the dinner is a virtually unprecedented collection of Houston culinary talent that will sell out quickly. Tickets, priced at $200 per person plus tax and gratuity ($256), are available here.
“The City of Houston is honored to host the James Beard Foundation as it announces the 2019 James Beard Award nominees,” Turner added. “The Foundation has come to the ideal place. With one in every four Houstonians being foreign born, Houston takes pride in the rich culinary scene that comes with being one of most diverse cities in the nation.”