James Beard taps 12 Austin, San Antonio spots as semifinalists – mySA

The James Beard Awards are often considered the Oscars of the food industry, and with good reason. According to the James Beard Foundation’s website, the organization’s mission is “to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.”

The 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists were announced by the James Beard Foundation on Wednesday, January 25, with multiple showings for Austin and San Antonio (and Seguin) across 23 categories. Austin and San Antonio chefs and restaurants are each in the running for six awards, with one for Seguin.

Here are the semifinalists in the area.

Emerging Chef

Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin of Best Quality Daughter at the Pearl Brewery is nominated in the Emerging Chef category. The founder of Hot Joy and Tenko Ramen, Dobbertin first opened Best Quality Daughter in 2020 and was the sole Texas entry in this year’s best new restaurants list published by USA Today.

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine, now with four locations in San Antonio, one in Austin, and another in Boerne, made the list for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

Joining Ng on the list is Mariela Camacho, of Austin’s Comadre Panadería, an organic, pan-Latinx bakery opened in 2019.

Outstanding Bar

Weathered Souls Brewing Company is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar. 

Best Chef: Texas

San Antonio and Austin have three semifinalists for Best Chef. Seguin also has one semifinalist.

Nicola Blaque of San Antonio’s The Jerk Shack has already received national coverage for her Caribbean restaurant opened in 2018.

A trio of chefs from Curry Boys BBQ, Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia, and Sean Wen, are semifinalists for their Asian barbecue restaurant in San Antonio.

John Russ of Clementine, a fine dining establishment, rounds out the list for San Antonio.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph is in the running for his work at East Austin Caribbean restaurant Canje, recently named one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit and a top 50 restaurant overall by the New York Times.

Damien Brockway of Austin barbecue joint Distant Relatives, named to Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Texas BBQ Joints list in 2021, also made the James Beard semifinalist list.

Kareem-El Ghayesh of Austin’s KG BBQ is Austin’s third semifinalist, for his fusion of Texas barbecue with Egyptian and Middle Eastern flavors.

In Seguin, Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland of Burnt Bean Co., named No. 4 barbecue joint in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2021, are also semifinalists.

Outstanding Restaurant

La Condesa, opened in Austin in 2009, is one of only two Texas restaurants (the other being Dallas’ Lucia) named as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurant category.

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Suerte by Fermin Nunez (2021 Best New Chef, Food & Wine) also earned a nod for its bar program.

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