Two of Austin’s most buzzworthy chefs have made the cut on the coveted list of James Beard Award finalists for 2022.
Chef Edgar Rico of wildly popular east side eatery Nixta Taqueria, has been named a James Beard Award finalist in the Emerging Chef category, and Chef Iliana de la Vega of south side Mexican restaurant El Naranjo has been named a finalist in the Best Chef: Texas category.
Considered the Oscars of the food world, the awards recognize chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. The Beard Foundation created the Best Chef: Texas category in 2019 to recognize the state’s diverse collection of talent.
Though four Austin chefs were nominated in the James Beard Awards’ semifinalist round, the Rico and de la Vega were the only local nominees to make it to the final round.
However, Texas is well-represented overall on the list of finalists.
Texans in the running for national awards are:
- Outstanding Hospitality: Hugo’s
- Outstanding Bar Program: Julep
- Outstanding Pastry Chef: Ruben Ortega, Xochi
- Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Williams, Lucille’s Hospitality Group
- Best New Restaurant: Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch
- Emerging Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin
The finalists for Best Chef: Texas are:
- Tiffany Derry, Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch
- Christine Ha and Tony Nguyen, Xin Chao, Houston
- Quy Hoang, Blood Bros. BBQ, Bellaire
- Steve McHugh, Cured, San Antonio
- Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin
Overall, the nominees demonstrate the Beard Foundation’s commitment to recognizing a more diverse group of nominees and styles of restaurant than it has in the past. For example, five Texas pitmasters earned semifinalist nominations for Best Chef: Texas.
The Beard Foundation will announce the finalists for its media award on April 27. Winners will be awarded in Chicago on June 13.