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Absolutely Zero Austin Chefs and Restaurants Make James Beard Awards 2023’s Finalist List

Even though there were six semifinalists from the Texas city

A table full of plated foods.
Dishes from La Condesa.
La Condesa
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for its James Beard Awards this morning on Wednesday, March 29. The shortlist includes absolutely zero Austin chefs and restaurants. This is a shame for a city that includes so many amazing chefs and restaurants.

Austin semifinalists who unfortunately didn’t make the finalist list were:

  • Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the co-owner of Eater Austin Award-winning Caribbean restaurant Canje in the Best Chef: Texas category; this was his first semifinalist nomination
  • Damien Brockway, the owner and pitmaster of Eater Austin Award-winning barbecue truck Distant Relatives in McKinney in the Best Chef: Texas category; this was his second semifinalist nomination
  • Kareem El-Ghayesh, the owner and pitmaster of Egyptian-Texan barbecue food truck KG BBQ in MLK in the Best Chef: Texas category; this was his first finalist nomination
  • Baker Mariela Camacho of Eater Austin Award-winning bakery pop-up Comadre Panadería in East Austin in the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker category, this had been her first semifinalist nomination
  • East Austin Mexican restaurant Suerte in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program category; this had been its second general semifinalist nod, the restaurant was a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category in 2019
  • Mexican restaurant La Condesa in the Outstanding Restaurant category; this had been its second semifinalist nomination (the first in 2010), then-pastry chef Laura Sawicki and then-chef Rene Ortiz racked up semifinalist nominations during their tenures in 2013

In wider actual Texas finalists, Brownsville bar Las Ramblas scored a nod in the Outstanding Bar category; San Antonio chef John Russ in the Best Chef: Texas for Clementine; El Paso chef Emiliano Marentes of ELEMI in the Texas group; Seguin’s Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland of Burnt Bean Co. in Texas too; and there are a bunch of Dallas (a lot actually) and Houston picks.

In 2022, Austin’s two James Beard finalists became winners: Iliana de la Vega of Oaxacan restaurant El Naranjo in the Best Chef: Texas category; and Edgar Rico of Mexican restaurant Nixta Taqueria in the Emerging Chef category.

Last month, the James Beard Foundation announced the winners of its America’s Classic Restaurant awards, which highlight longtime restaurants. This included East Austin Mexican restaurant Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop in the Texas category.

Other previous Austin James Beard Award winners are Aaron Franklin in 2015 for Franklin Barbecue; Paul Qui in 2012 for Uchiko; and Tyson Cole with a tie in 2011 for Uchi.

The 2023 James Beard Award winners will be announced during a ceremony on Monday, June 5.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2023.

Distant Relatives

3901 Promontory Point Drive, , TX 78744 (512) 717-2504 Visit Website


3108 Manor Road, , TX 78723 (512) 586-9624 Visit Website

Comadre Panadería

1204 Cedar Avenue, , TX 78702 Visit Website

La Condesa

400 West 2nd Street, , TX 78701 (512) 499-0300 Visit Website


1914 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 706-9119 Visit Website


1800 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 522-3031 Visit Website