It was all good just a month ago. Back on February 15, when the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2018 James Beard Awards, things were looking real good for Houston. We had 12 spots on the list, including an incredible five nominees in the Best Chef: Southwest category. Things felt pretty good, and the laws of averages being what they are it seemed like a shoo-in the city would have at least a few nominees make the final ballot.
It was not to be. Earlier today that final ballot was released, and you'll find that Houston only comes up once: Anvil is one of the finalists for Outstanding Bar Program. While Houston may have looked strong early, it was two Austin chefs (Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie and Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine), a San Antonio chef (Steve McHugh of Cured), and chefs from Santa Fe and Denver that ended up with the Best Chef: Southwest nominees, ending Houston's two-year lock on the event; Justin Yu picked up the win in 2016 and Hugo Ortega won the award last year. At least the odds are good that Texas can pick up the win for a fifth year in a row.
Tough beat for the city, but no reason to feel too down. There's no doubt that the city is full of great culinary talent, and the 2019 awards are only a year away. Congrats to the folks at Anvil for their nomination, and congrats again to everyone who made it to the semifinal round in the first place. You're all winners in our book.