A Houston Chef and 2 Restaurants Are Finalists in the 2023 James Beard Awards
This year’s Oscars may be over, but the “Oscars of food” is just starting to heat up. On the heels of its February semifinalists announcement, which saw 10 Houston chefs and restaurants receive nominations, the James Beard Foundation this morning announced its 2023 finalists. One Houston chef and two restaurants made it onto the list. (Unlike this year’s Oscar winner for best picture, though, none of the chefs and restaurants are centered around an everything bagel—although it’s safe to assume their reservation wait lists are about to include everyone everywhere all at once.)
Houston nominees include chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter of Street to Kitchen for Best Chef: Texas, Tatemó for Best New Restaurant, and Nancy’s Hustle for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program.
Painter’s Thai staple Street to Kitchen, located in an unassuming strip center in Houston’s East End, has become one of Houston’s most lauded restaurants since she and her husband, Graham, opened it to the public early on in the pandemic when everything was shut down and they could no longer continue with their popular food pop-ups. Painter, who learned to cook at a young age in the kitchen of her grandmother’s restaurant in Thailand, creates dishes with novel ingredients that you can’t find in any of Houston's other Thai restaurants.
Like Street to Kitchen, Best New Restaurant finalist Tatemó also started out as a pop-up and is located in an unassuming strip mall. Tatemó, located in northwest Houston and helmed by chef Emmanuel Chavez, spotlights all things corn and was recently named by Esquire as one the the best new restaurants in America.
East End bistro Nancy's Hustle, nominated in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program category, is known for its well-curated wine, beer, and cocktail lists, as well as for its substantial alcohol-free offerings. The restaurant’s chef, Jason Vaughan, was notably a semifinalist in 2020 for Best Chef: Texas.
The bulk of the remaining Texas nominations this year are in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, including Best New Restaurant finalist Restaurant Beatrice and Outstanding Bakery finalist Kuluntu Bakery. Austin, notably, didn’t make the cut.
The winners will be announced in Chicago on June 5, during the James Beard Restaurant and Chefs Awards Ceremony.