These Arizona chefs and restaurants are James Beard Awards semifinalists. Here's the list
In 2022, Arizona chefs brought home two major James Beard Award wins: Chris Bianco won the award for Outstanding Restaurateur and Don Guerra was named Outstanding Baker in the nation.
On Wednesday morning, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2023 semifinalists and Arizona is again well represented with chefs and restaurants on the list.
What does it mean to win a James Beard Award? A James Beard Award in the food world is analogous to an Oscar in the movie world.
Here are the Arizona semifinalists for the 2023 James Beard Awards.
Exclusive:The most anticipated new restaurants of 2023
Arizona's James Beard Award semifinalists for Best Chef — Southwest
Arizona has nine semifinalists in the category of Best Chef — Southwest. The Southwest region encompasses Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Best Chef — Southwest
Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, Bacanora in Phoenix.
Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, The Table at Junipine in Sedona.
Nephi Craig, Café Gozhóó in Whiteriver.
Wendy Garcia, Tumerico in Tucson.
Fernando Hernández, Testal in Phoenix.
Yotaka and Alex Martin, Lom Wong in Phoenix.
New restaurant alert:James Beard winner to open 1st Arizona restaurant in Scottsdale. What to expect at Uchi
Arizona semifinalists in outstanding and emerging categories
The rest of the semifinalists included familiar and new faces:
Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café in Phoenix.
Proper Meats + Provisions in Flagstaff.
Christian Lowe, Shift Kitchen & Bar in Flagstaff.
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
Crystal Kass, Valentine in Phoenix.
JL Patisserie in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program
Glai Baan in Phoenix.
Check it out:A long-awaited Mexican restaurant is opening inside this iconic Phoenix hotel on Grand Avenue
How semifinalists from Bacanora and Valentine reacted
The nominees were thrilled.
"It's surreal," Crystal Kass of Valentine said. "I think I still don't believe it yet."
"It's good," said Roberto Centeno of Bacanora. "Kinda funny 'cause Rene and I always talked about both getting nominated in the future and now it happened."
Silvana Salcido Esparza: 'It feels fantastic"
Esparza wasn't alone in her excitement of being nominated.
"That's awesome. How did I get in there?" said Jenna Leurquin of JL Patisserie.
"I called Dara," said Christian Lowe, referring to Dara Wong, the owner of Shift. "I was freaking out so much that she asked if I was OK," Lowe said excitedly. "Oh my God. I'm gonna go clean an oven."
Nephi Craig of Cafe Gozhoo had no idea, he said.
Fernando Hernández of Testal said, "We are so proud that our work to show Phoenix the culture and food from northern Mexico (Chihuahua) has reached out levels that we never thought possible."
Jaren Bates: 'I'm still pinching myself'
Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber of The Table at Junipine were delighted.
"I'm still pinching myself," Bates said. "I wanna pull off the side of the road and scream out loud, but I gotta hustle back for service."
Vibber said, "It feels great. It’s definitely not the reason I cook but a byproduct of the unique approach I think we have to food and how it should be gathered and served."
When the 2023 James Beard Award finalists, winners will be announced
The James Beard Foundation will announce the 2023 finalists on March 29. The 2023 winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Chicago on June 5.
Reach the reporter at BAnooshahr@azcentral.com. Follow @banooshahr on Twitter.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 2023 James Beard Awards: Arizona chefs, restaurants semifinalists