2 Fort Worth chefs earn nominations for 2020 James Beard Awards

The Fort Worth dining scene received some nice surprises from the James Beard Awards, which just released their 2020 semi-finalist list. They are considered the Oscars of the food world and are awarded annually to chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs, authors, etc. and more.

Two Fort Worth cooks nodded, one of whom was an exciting newbie.

  • Bria Downey, Head Chef at Clay Pigeon Food & Drink, has been named Rising Star Chef of the Year – a national award.
  • Molly McCook, Head Chef at Ellerbe Fine Foods, was nominated for Best Chef in Texas.

CultureMap Tastemaker Awards 2019 attendees may remember that Downey was nominated for best chef who kindly accepted the award for best clay pigeon restaurant. Go Bria!

Two other chefs from the DFW region were nominated for the first time, both for national awards:

  • Clyde greenhouse, from Kessler Baking Studio, was nominated for Outstanding Baker
  • Salaryman, a small ramen restaurant in Dallas’ Oak Cliff, was nominated for Best New Restaurant

Other nominees for the Dallas area are: Maggie Huff (Homewood in Dallas) and Ricardo “Ricchi” Sanchez (Bullion in Dallas), both semi-finalists in the Best Pastry Chef category.

And four Dallas chefs have been nominated for the Best Chef in Texas Regional Competition: mixed Norris (Petra and the Beast), Regino Rojas (Revolver Taco Lounge), Teiichi Sakurai (Tei-An) and Donny Sirisavath (Khao noodle shop).

Overall, bars and restaurants in Texas received nominations in a number of national categories, including Larry McGuire of Austin’s McGuire Moorman Hospitality for Outstanding Restaurateurs and Kim McPherson (McPherson Cellars in Lubbock) for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Liquor Producers.

The state already has a beard award winner. Last week the Foundation named Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville as one of six America’s Classics. The category honors businesses that are usually family-owned and “valued for their quality, their local character and their long-term attractiveness”. Past Texas winners include Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor), The Original Sonny Bryan (Dallas) and Irma (Houston).

This year is the first time under the new rules of the James Beard Foundation that the prices for chefs have increased from 10 to 12 regions. These changes included making Texas its own region for the best cooking awards. Previously, the Lone Star State was thrown to the southwest along with Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah.

These changes ensure that at least one Texas chef will win a James Beard Award every year going forward. Last year nobody from Texas won an award. Since 2010, six Texan chefs have won the Southwest category, which is evenly split between Houston and Austin.

Semi-finalists are selected by the Foundation’s Restaurant and Cooking Awards Committee, composed of food writers from across the country including Los Angeles Times critic Bill Addison, Bloomberg food editor Kate Krader, and Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Allison Cook. The finalists for each category will be announced in Philadelphia on March 25th.

The foundation will announce its media award winners on April 24th in New York. The chef and restaurant awards will be presented on May 4th in Chicago.

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