Dining Awards

The Oscars of the food world: Austinites among James Beard restaurant and chef semi-finalists for 2012

The Oscars of the food world: Austinites among James Beard restaurant and chef semi-finalists for 2012

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Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_top chef texas_uchi_Nov 2011_Philip Speer
Philip Speer Photo by Rebecca Fondren
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt_Jack Allens Tequila bash_jan 2012_bryce gilmore
Bryce Gilmore Photo by Matt McGinnis
Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_top chef texas_uchi_Nov 2011_Paul Qui
Paul Qui Photo by Virgil Solis
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Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_top chef texas_uchi_Nov 2011_Philip Speer
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt_Jack Allens Tequila bash_jan 2012_bryce gilmore
Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_top chef texas_uchi_Nov 2011_Paul Qui

The James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists in its 2012 restaurant and chef awards categories, and the results include a number of Austin chefs.

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Philip Speer, Uchi/Uchiko
Rising Star of the Year: Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine
Best Chef, Southwest: Paul Qui, Uchi/Uchiko

All three of these Austin chefs are also nominated locally for the inaugural Tastemaker Awards to be announced April 12th at the Driskill Hotel. Tickets went on sale to the public on Tuesday morning for that event.

The Beards are often referred to as the "Oscars of the food world." But unlike this weekend's Academy Awards and its two-step nominee/winner process, the Beard's restaurant and chef categories follow a three-step system, involving semifinalists, nominees and winners.

In the first round of judging, the foundation selects 20 semifinalists in 20 categories. Judges (hundreds of critics, journalists, food professionals and past winners) vote for up to five names in each category. The top five vote-getters among the semifinalists advance to the nomination stage and are called "nominees." (Not "finalists.") A second round of voting commences, and the top vote-getter among the five nominees is declared the winner at the foundation's annual gala.

Here are our other Texas nominees. A big congrats to:

Outstanding Bar Program:
Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston
The Esquire Tavern, San Antonio

Best New Restaurant
Pondicherri, Houston

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Julieta V. Adauto, Orange Peel Pastries, Cakes & More, El Paso

Outstanding Restauranteur
Jason Dady, Jason Dady Restaurants, San Antonio
Nick Badovinus, Flavor Hook, Dallas

Best Chef: Southwest
Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks, San Antonio
Manabu Horiuchi, Kata Robata, Houston
Anita Jaisinghani, Indika, Houston
Maiya Keck, Maiya’s, Marfa
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston

Restaurant and chef nominees will be announced on March 19 from Las Vegas, along with nominees in the foundation's cookbook, design and journalism categories. Winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony on May 7 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

Congratulations to all semifinalists!