Chef Steve McHugh of the celebrated restaurant Cured at the Pearl is one step closer to culinary glory. McHugh was announced as a finalist in the Best Chef: Texas category of the James Beard Foundation’s 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards today – his sixth time as a finalist.

McHugh is the lone San Antonio representative moving on to the finals from a class of eight chefs, bakers, bars and more announced as semifinalists Feb. 23. Winners will be named during the James Beard Foundation’s award ceremony to be held June 13 in Chicago. The award carries significant weight in the culinary world and has been likened to winning an Oscar for chefs.

While San Antonio has seen several chefs earn multiple James Beard Award nominations, most notably Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks with seven and Andrew Weissman with four during his tenure at Le Rêve, none have won top honors.

Chef Steve McHugh of the restaurant Cured at the Pearl has been named as a finalist in the 2022 James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards.

Robin Jerstad / Contributor file photo

McHugh is no stranger to the James Beard Foundation. He earned finalist honors in the Best Chef: Southwest category every year from 2016 to 2019, and in the Best Chef: Texas category in 2020. The Texas-only category was created in 2020 as part of a reorganization of the James Beard Awards regional groups .

McHugh has also cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City. He collaborated with fellow San Antonio chefs Elizabeth Johnson (Pharm Table) and Johnny Hernandez (Grupo La Gloria) to serve a meal there celebrating San Antonio’s tricentennial and its 300 years of culinary history in 2018.

McHugh’s Best Chef: Texas competition includes Tiffany Derry of Roots Southern Table in Farmers Branch, Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen of Xin Chào in Houston, Quy Hoang of Blood Bros. BBQ in Bellaire and Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo in Austin.

While McHugh was the only San Antonio finalist named for this year’s James Beard Awards, 2022 has been a particularly noteworthy year for the city’s dining scene. Among the eight SA semifinalists named in February, four were up for national honors.

Mixtli and its pastry chef, Sofia Tejeda, were named in the Best Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef categories, respectively. David Cáceres, of La Panadería was a semifinalist for the title of Outstanding Baker, and High Street Wine Co. was up for the Outstanding Wine Program honor.

McHugh’s fellow Best Chef: Texas semifinalists included Esaul Ramos Jr., pitmaster and co-owner of 2M Smokehouse, John Russ, chef and co-owner of Clementine, and Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, pitmasters and co-owners of Burnt Bean Co. in Seguin.

pstephen@express-news.net | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen

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