A select group of Texas chefs, a bartender, and a food writer are sporting shiny new medals this week. They are the winners of this year’s James Beard Awards.
Between a media awards ceremony held in Chicago on Saturday, June 11 and the restaurant and chef awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, five Texans, three haling from Austin, won awards. They are:
- Austin chef Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria) for Emerging Chef
- Austin chef Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo) for Best Chef: Texas
- Austin chef Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due) for his cookbook, The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs
- Houston cocktail bar Julep for Outstanding Bar Program
- Texas Monthly Taco Editor Jose Ralat for his Tex-Mexplainer columns
Outstanding Chef went to Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia. Phoenix-based chef Chris Bianco won Outstanding Restaurateur.
Nixta Taqueria's Edgar Rico was named Austin's Chef of the Year at this year's CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
Considered the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Award recognize chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories that include Outstanding Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Pastry Chef, and more. Overall, Texans received nominations in six national categories in the Restaurant and Chef Awards, and six chefs from five restaurants competed for Best Chef: Texas.
Texas became its own region following the 2019 awards; this year is the first time it has awarded a winner in this category.
Media awards, held during a separate ceremony, recognize authors, journalists, and broadcasters for everything from food criticism to podcasts.
The Beard Foundation did not give out awards in 2020 or 2021. This year’s awards reflect new eligibility guidelines for nominees and a new panel of voters. The results produced a more diverse group of nominees and winners (Full disclosure: this author participated in that process and voted on some of the categories in the awards).