On Wednesday morning, the highly anticipated semifinalists for the 2016 James Beard Awards were announced, and, once again, Austin is well represented.
Newcomer Launderette, the casual East Austin concept from Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki, is in the running for Best New Restaurant. Only one other Texas restaurant joins Launderette, Houston's Helen Greek Food and Wine. Laura Sawicki, famous for her playful desserts (birthday cake ice cream sandwich, anyone?) is also a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category.
There are some familiar Austin faces too. Grae Nonas, whose restaurant, Olamaie, was among the semifinalists for Best New Restaurant in 2015, is a contender for Rising Star of the Year for the second year in a row.
Bryce Gilmore of Austin favorite Barley Swine again has a chance at Best Chef: Southwest. And Uchi's Tyson Cole, who won Best Chef: Southwest in 2011, is a semifinalist in the prestigious Outstanding Chef category.
The James Beard Awards will be held on May 2 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Look for the final nominees to be announced in mid-March.