Popular San Antonio chef lands coveted spot as James Beard Award finalist

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Chef Steve McHugh was recognized by the James Beard Foundation for his work at the Pearl’s Cured.

A favorite San Antonio chef has made the finalist list for the 2018 James Beard Awards. In an announcement held March 14 at Parc by Stephen Starr in Philadelphia, Steve McHugh from Cured landed a spot as Best Chef: Southwest.

The coveted annual awards are presented as a three-part process. Before the finalists were revealed, the organization announced the semifinalists on February 15 — a list that included quite a few well-known Texas names like Diego Galicia and Rico Torres of Mixtli, Kevin Fink of Austin’s Emmer & Rye, and barbecue legend Norma Francis “Tootsie” Tomanetz of Lexington’s Snow’s BBQ.

Texas chefs dominated the short list for the Best Chef: Southwest category. Joining McHugh are two Austin chefs Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie) and Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine) — along with Martin Rios from Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martín and Alex Seidel from Denver’s Mercantile.

Both Dallas and Houston were largely snubbed. The only other Texas name to receive a finalist slot was Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge, which was cited for Outstanding Bar Program. Texas Monthly also received a nomination in the journalism awards’ Foodways category for Matt Diffee’s “Chili at the Fifty.”

The winners of the annual awards, sometimes called the “Oscars of the food world,” will be announced at a ceremony on May 7 in Chicago.

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