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Austin Chefs in National Spotlight

3 of Austin's favorite chefs are now James Beard semifinalists

In a much anticipated livestream on Wednesday morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the chef and restaurant semifinalists for its 2014 awards. Although the Austin representation was slim, three local, much-revered chefs received nominations.

In the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, Philip Speer of Uchi Austin (and Houston) is nominated. Two of Austin's biggest names are semifinalists in the Best Chef: Southwest category. David Bull is nominated for his fine dining establishment, Congress; and Bryce Gilmore gets a nod for his casual and playful cuisine at flagship brick-and-mortar Barley Swine. Gilmore was nominated in 2013 for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

This year's semifinalist list is lighter in regards to Austin representation than previous years. In 2013, Gilmore was nominated alongside Tyson Cole, Renee Ortiz, Laura Sawicki and Janina O'Leary. (The latter three are all pursuing new restaurant endeavors expected to open in 2014.)

Only three Austin chefs made the cut, but Texas has a healthy showing on the semifinalists list — especially in the Best Chef Southwest category. Houston nominees in the category are Chris Shepherd, Underbelly; Justin Yu, Oxheart; and Hugo Ortega, Hugo's. Dallas' recognized chefs are John Tesar, Spoon Bar & Kitchen; David Uygur, Lucia; and Matt McCallister, FT33.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala takes place on May 5 in New York City.

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