Austin chefs dominated the James Beard Award Best Chef Southwest finalists list this morning, taking three of the five spots for the fist time in the history of the award.

Perennial finalist Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine earned his seventh consecutive finalist nod. He was joined by Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie, who was a finalist last year, and Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye. Rounding out the Best Chef Southwest group of finalists are return finalists chef Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio and Charleen Badman of FnB in Scottsdale, AZ. The Beard Foundation made the announcement this morning at a press conference in Houston, where the organization held a dinner last night at Beard winner Hugo Ortega’s

Previous Austin winners include Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue (2015), Paul Qui (2012) and Austin’s first-ever winner, Tyson Cole of Uchi (2011). Austin had a sextet of semifinalists this year who did not nab a finalist nod. The group included Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo and Maribel Rivero of Yuyo for Best Chef Southwest; Laura Sawicki of Launderette for Outstanding Pastry Chef; Suerte for Best New Restaurant; and Jeffrey Stuffings of Jester King Brewery in the Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Producer category

For a list of finalists, visit jamesbeard.org/awards. The awards will be handed out May 6 in Chicago, with the ceremony streaming live online. For the complete list of all finalists, go to jamesbeard.org.

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