HOUSTON – Several Houston-area restaurants and chefs were in the running for the prestigious culinary James Beard Foundation Award, but on Wednesday were shut out of the finalist announcement made at famed Houston eatery Hugo's.
While Houston was touted as a star among American cities for food by newspapers across the country and by the speakers at the James Beard Award event, none of the Houston eateries named on the semifinalist listing made the final nominees list.
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation was a semifinalist for outstanding restaurant. Hugo’s and Tony’s -- both Houston favorites -- were in the running for the title of outstanding service. H Town Restaurant Group and Tracy Vaught (the restaurant group behind Hugo’s, Xochi, Caracol and more) were in the running for outstanding restauranteur. Chef Kaiser Lashkari from Himalaya, Trong Nguyen from Crawfish & Noodles and Ronnie Killen from Killen's Barbecue were all vying for the title of best chef in the Southwest.
Several other Houston eateries and chefs were ranked among the semifinalists including Jonathan "Jonny" Rhodes from Restaurant Indigo, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse at the Galleria, Chris Shepherd from Georgia James and Anvil Bar & Refuge.
Nominees for the award were announced in nearly 60 categories of the foundation’s various awards programs, including Restaurant and Chef, Restaurant Design, and Media.
The nominee announcement took place Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Hugo’s.
Each category of 20 semifinalists was narrowed down to five official nominees.
Houston chef Hugo Ortega prepared breakfast for the guests.