Houston culinary brilliance takes center stage: 2024 James Beard Award semifinalists unveiled with 11 H-Town nominations

Houston’s gastronomic stars shine bright as 11 semifinalists emerge in the prestigious 2024 James Beard Awards, setting the stage for an epic culinary showdown.

File image of a restaurant kitchen (Pixabay)

Houston’s culinary scene is once again in the spotlight as the James Beard Foundation unveiled its list of semifinalists for the prestigious 2024 James Beard Awards. Often referred to as the “Oscars of food,” these awards celebrate culinary excellence across the nation, and Houston boasts an impressive 11 nominations among the semifinalists.

The city’s culinary prowess is evident in both national and regional categories, showcasing the diverse talent that makes H-Town a food lover’s paradise. From emerging chefs to outstanding restaurants, Houston is well-represented, promising an exciting competition as the finalists are revealed on April 3.

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National Recognition

  • Emerging Chef: Ope Amosu, ChòpnBlọk
  • Best New Restaurant: Jūn
  • Outstanding Bakery: Koffeteria
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Stephanie Velasquez, Ema HTX
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Bludorn
  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Itai Ben Eli and Itamar Levy, Sof Hospitality
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Nancy’s Hustle

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Best Chef: Texas Category

Houston’s representation in the regional Best Chef: Texas category is equally impressive, with four outstanding nominees competing for the coveted title.

  • Thomas Bille, Belly of the Beast
  • Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Victoria Elizondo, Cochinita & Co.

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Texas-wide Excellence

Beyond Houston, other Texas cities boast their own share of culinary brilliance, with semifinalists making their mark in various categories:

  • Outstanding Beverage Program: Taconeta (El Paso)
  • Outstanding Beverage Program: Bufalina (Austin)
  • Outstanding Bar: Las Ramblas (Brownsville)
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Gemma (Dallas)
  • Best New Restaurant: Barbs-B-Q (Lockhart)
  • Best New Restaurant: Ramen del Barrio (Austin)
  • Outstanding Bakery: La Casita Bakeshop (Richardson)
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería (Austin)
  • Outstanding Chef: Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)
  • Outstanding Chef: David Uygur, Lucia (Dallas)
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Mixtli (San Antonio)
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Convenience West (Marfa)

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Best Chef: Texas Nominees from Other Cities

  • Best Chef: Texas: Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Canje (Austin)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Christopher Cullum, Cullum’s Attaboy (San Antonio)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Geoff Ellis, Mum Foods Smokehouse & Delicatessen (Austin)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Alexandra Gates, Cochineal (Marfa)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Joseph Gomez, Con Todo (Austin)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia, and Sean Wen, Curry Boys BBQ (San Antonio)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin, Best Quality Daughter (San Antonio)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, Birdie’s (Austin)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Emiliano Marentes, Elemi (El Paso)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Misti Norris, Petra & the Beast (Dallas)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Fermín Nuñez, Suerte (Austin)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria (Mission)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, José (Dallas)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Regino Rojas, Purépecha (Dallas)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Arnulfo Sánchez III, Vaqueros Texas Bar-B-Q (Grapevine)
  • Best Chef: Texas: Rich Vana, The Heritage Table (Frisco)

As we eagerly await the announcement of the finalists on April 3, the Houston culinary scene stands proud, showcasing its exceptional talents and contributions to the gastronomic world. Stay tuned to see which of these outstanding nominees will take home the coveted James Beard Awards on June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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About the Author

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.

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