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4 Austin semifinalists named in James Beard Awards

El Naranjo's executive chef Iliana de la Vega was named a semifinalist for best new Texas Chefs. (El Naranjo/Instagram)

The 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists list is here and four of its candidates call Austin home.


One of five recognition programs awarding restaurateurs, leaders and media professionals, the James Beard Foundation Media Awards have been running since 1991. Austin already boasts four James Beard Award winners: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, who won in 2015; Paul Qui of East Side King, who won in 2012; Tyson Cole of Uchi, who won in 2011; and Diana Kennedy, an Austin-based cookbook author, in 1986.

For the first time, the James Beard Foundation will award the Best Texas Chef, a category that was announced in 2020 but had to be postponed after the 2021 awards were canceled due to accusations of bias. Previously, Texan chefs were listed in the best chefs of the Southwest category.

Austin may have nabbed four nominations but fellow big Texas cities got away with even more—Houston claimed nine nominations, while Dallas and San Antonio each made out with seven nominations.

Emerging chef nominees:

  • Edgar Rico, chef and co-owner of Mexican eatery Nixta Taqueria.
  • Amanda Turner, chef de cuisine of Southern restaurant Olamaie, which had seen three finalist nominations in the past.

Best New Texas Chef nominees:

  • Damien Brockway, pitmaster and barbecue truck Distant Relatives owner.
  • Iliana de la Vega, executive chef and co-owner of Oaxacan restaurant El Naranjo. This will be her third semifinalist nomination.

Finalists will be announced on March 16 before commemorating the winners during a June 13 ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway