PHOENIX - Three Arizona chefs and a Valley restaurateur are in the running for a 2018 James Beard Award, an honor some view as the highest achievement in the culinary industry.
This year, Arizona's semifinalists fall into two categories: "Best Chef: Southwest" and "Outstanding Restauranteur." All of the Valley's nominees have been named semifinalists multiple times before.
Charleen Badman, chef and owner of Fnb: Chef Badman has been nominated for "Best Chef: Southwest," an honor she's received every year since 2014.
Kevin Binkley, owner of Binkley's: Chef Binkley is also nominated for "Best Chef: Southwest" category. He's been nominated every year since 2008, except for 2017.
Silvana Salcido Esparza, chef and owner of Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva: Chef Esparza is also nominated for "Best Chef: Southwest", marking her sixth nomination in that category.
Sam Fox, the owner of Fox Restaurant Concepts, the group behind several Valley restaurants like Culinary Dropout, North Italia, Zinburger, The Henry, and most recently, Doughbird, has once again been nominated for "outstanding restaurateur." He has been named a semifinalist in that category every year since 2008.
Nearly 23,000 entries were submitted for this year's James Beard Awards, according to the James Beard Foundation. The 20 semifinalists in each category will be reduced to five finalists.