And the nominees are ...

Outstanding Austin chefs and design firms named finalists for prestigious James Beard Awards

Austin chefs and design firms named finalists for James Beard Awards

Michael Fojtasek
Michael Fojtasek represents Olamaie in the Best Chef Southwest category. Photo by Robert J. Lerma
Bryce Gilmore Barley Swine
Bryce Gilmore once again landed a Best Chef Southwest finalist nod. Photo by Mel Cole
Otoko interior
Otoko's stunning design was recognized by the James Beard Award judges. Otoko/ Facebook
Michael Fojtasek
Bryce Gilmore Barley Swine
Otoko interior

Several Austinites have made the finalist list for the 2018 James Beard Awards. In an announcement on March 14 at Parc by Stephen Starr in Philadelphia, local talent nabbed spots on the Best Chefs Southwest list and received nods for restaurant design. The winners will be announced in Chicago on May 7.

Texas chefs dominated the short list for the Best Chef: Southwest category, including Olamaie’s Michael Fojtasek, Barley Swine’s Bryce Gilmore, and Steve McHugh from San Antonio’s Cured. Joining the Texas trio is Martin Rios from Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martin and Alex Seidel from Denver’s Mercantile.

The stunning space at Otoko also received recognition in the 75 Seats and Under category for design. Austin designers Jett Butler, Tom Ahn, and Dale Wallain — representing local firm FÖDA Studio — were nominated alongside local firm Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and Los Angeles’ Studio MAI. The project is up against De Maria, Daily Provisions, and abcV in New York City; and In Situ in San Francisco. FÖDA is also nominated in the 76 Seats and Over category for work on The Preacher's Son in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The coveted annual awards are presented as a three-part process. Before the finalists were revealed, the organization announced the semifinalists on February 15 — a list that included quite a few well-known Texas names like Emmer & Rye’s Kevin Fink, Diego Galicia and Rico Torres of San Antonio’s Mixtli, and barbecue legend Norma Francis “Tootsie” Tomanetz of Lexington’s Snow’s BBQ. 

Both Dallas and Houston were largely snubbed in the finalist lists. The only other Texas name to receive a finalist slot was Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge, which was cited for Outstanding Bar Program. Texas Monthly also received a nomination in the journalism awards’ Foodways category for writer Matt Diffee’s “Chili at the Fifty.”