Multiple Arizona chefs, restaurants earn spots as James Beard Awards semifinalists

Jan 26, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2023, 2:17 pm

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – More than a dozen Arizona chefs and restaurants found a place at the table Wednesday when the James Beard Awards announced semifinalists for 2023.

Silvana Salcido Esparza of Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe led the charge with an outstanding chef nomination.

“Congratulations to all our 2023 James Beard Award semifinalists! This is always an exhilarating moment as we kick off the awards cycle and recognize the outstanding achievements of individuals and teams across the country,” Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, said in a press release.

Esparza has plenty of company from the Grand Canyon State.

Crystal Kass of Valentine in Phoenix is in the running for outstanding pastry chef or baker.

Proper Meats + Provisions in Flagstaff made the list for outstanding restaurant; JL Patisserie, which has locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, was tapped as an outstanding bakery, a new category; and Glai Baan in Phoenix earned recognition for outstanding wine and other beverages program.

Christian Lowe of Shift Kitchen & Bar in Flagstaff was nominated for emerging chef.

The following nine Arizonans at six restaurants were listed for best chef in the Southwest region, which also includes New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma:

  • Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, Bacanora, Phoenix
  • Fernando Hernández, Testal, Phoenix
  • Yotaka and Alex Martin, Lom Wong, Phoenix
  • Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, The Table at Junipine, Sedona
  • Nephi Craig, Café Gozhóó, Whiteriver
  • Wendy Garcia, Tumerico, Tucson

The James Beard Foundation’s restaurant and chef awards were first handed out in 1991. This year’s program includes 23 categories.

Finalists will be announced March 29; winners will be named June 5 in a ceremony in Chicago.

Last year, Chris Bianco of Tratto, Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix was named outstanding restaurateur.

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Multiple Arizona chefs, restaurants earn spots as James Beard Awards semifinalists