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22 Arizona chefs, restaurants named 2020 James Beard Award semifinalists

Posted: 12:09 PM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-26 15:37:52-05
2017 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame inductees

PHOENIX — The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2020 James Beard Awards on Wednesday -- an honor lauded by food writers and industry professionals as one of the top, if not the top, recognitions in the industry -- and an impressive 22 Arizona chefs, bakers, and restaurants have been named as contenders.

Arizona's honorees span a number of categories: Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Baker, Outstanding Bar Program, Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Hospitality, Outstanding Pastry Chef, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Restauranteur, Outstanding Wine Program, Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer, Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Best Chefs: Southwest.

The semifinalists will be narrowed to a list of finalists in each category, which will be announced on March 25.

Last year, Charleen Badman, chef and co-owner of FnB in Scottsdale, was awarded the James Beard Award in the "Best Chef: Southwest" category.

Here are this year's semifinalists:

Best New Restaurant
Vecina, Phoenix

Outstanding Baker
Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson

Outstanding Bar Program
Little Rituals, Phoenix

Outstanding Chef
Nobuo Fukuda, Nobuo at Teeter House, Phoenix

Outstanding Hospitality
Kai, Phoenix Mi Nidito Restaurant, Tucson

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Country Velador, Super Chunk Sweets & Treats, Scottsdale

Outstanding Restaurant
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix

Outstanding Restauranteur
Mike Mastro and Jeff Mastro, Prime Steak Concepts, Scottsdale (Dominick’s Steakhouse, Steak 44, Ocean 44)

Outstanding Wine Program
FnB, Scottsdale

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer
Stephen Paul, Hamilton Distillers, Tucson

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Cassie Shortino, Tratto, Phoenix

Best Chefs: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)
Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta
Bernie Kantak, Citizen Public House,
Shinji Kurita, Shinbay Omakase Room
Danielle Leoni, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
Maria Mazon, BOCA Tacos y Tequila
Chrysa Robertson, Rancho Pinot
Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café Gran Reserva
Samantha Sanz, Talavera
Jeff Smedstad, Elote Cafe
Ryan Swanson, Kai

You can view the full list of semifinalists, here.