CHICAGO – A Houston establishment achieved national acclaim on Monday evening at the annual James Beard Awards honoring the best in the culinary industry.
The owner’s response
“Thank you to my city of Houston, Texas for loving immigrants,” said Alba Huerta, the owner of Julep, while on stage after the award was announced Monday night. “For loving immigrants like me, like my family, welcoming us, and giving us the path to opening our own businesses.”
Huerta told KPRC2 on Tuesday that she’s still taking in the news. The bar owner said she didn’t have an award speech prepared because she wasn’t anticipating a win.
“Even when they were about to call the winner, I was thinking to myself, when they announce the winner, congratulate them,” Huerta said. “I just don’t generally think about awards in that way either. Like, we don’t come to work for awards, we come to work to make people the best drinks we possibly can and give them great service.”
Huerta, who came to Houston from Monterrey, Mexico in the 1980′s as part of an immigration reform program, said she felt it was important to highlight the city’s diversity and rich cultural history on the national stage.
“One of the biggest things about being on that stage was to really represent Houston and talk about Houston,” she said. “And after the awards, I had so many people in the crowd come up to me and tell me they love the city.”
National acclaim in the Bayou City
Before Monday’s festivities, which are viewed similar to the Oscars for those in the food profession, Julep was already nationally acclaimed, being the only bar from Texas among the list of North America’s 50 best bars. They ranked No. 46 on that list. They are now No. 1 for their bar program for the entire country with this James Beard Award.
Julep is well known for its mint juleps, cherry bounce sour and southern classic cocktails.
Other Houston establishments nominated
Julep was one of six local 2022 James Beard Award finalists, including four for national categories.
- Hugo’s - finalist for the Outstanding Hospitality
- Ruben Ortega, of Xochi - finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef
- Lucille’s Chris Williams - finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur