James Beard Foundation Nominates Several Austin Chefs and Restaurants


Aaron Franklin has been nominated to receive this year’s James Bear Award for Best Chef – Southwest.

Austin has been dominating the national culinary scene for the last few years, and has been coined a “must visit food city.” Proof is in the pudding again this year with the just released 2015 James Beard Award Semifinalist Nominations.

On Tuesday, March 24, the finalist will be announced, and then honored at a dinner on Friday, April 24 at Pier Sixty in New York City. National Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominees in the Book, Journalism, Broadcast Media, and Restaurant Design categories will be announced at the James Beard House in New York City on Tuesday, March 24.

Several Austin chefs and restaurants made the cut this year, which include the following:

Best New Restaurants: Olamaie
Olamaie has garnered some fabulous reviews, but it’s also had its critics. Given that the restaurant has been open for just over six months, they’re still getting their sea legs; I believe this Southern food haven will continue to shine and silence the critics.  The nomination reinforces chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas are doing Southern Food justice in Austin.

Rising Star of the Year: Chefs Mark Buley and Sam Hellman-Mass of Odd Duck
Odd Duck is the brain child of chef Bryce Gilmore who started out with Odd Duck Farm to Trailer, one of the best farm-to-trailer food options in Austin.  Since going brick-n-mortar, Odd Duck has been garner nominations left and right.  It’s exciting to see these two chefs garner such a nomination.

Rising Star of the Year: Chef Grae Nonas of Olamaie
Chef Grae Nonas and team held many pop-up events around Austin prior to Olamaie opening in Fall of 2014.  If you’re not well versed in Southern Food, head there and order the Carolina gold rice with crab dish (seasonal) or the Kil’t White Button Mushrooms (you can thank me later).

Best Chef – Southwest: Chef David Bull of Congress
This isn’t chef David Bull’s first rodeo. A graduate of CIA, Bull joined The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas where he cut his culinary chops. After making the move to executive chef and serving at the helm of historic Driscoll Hotel, he was nominated for Best New Chef by the Foundation. In 2011, the chef opened Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen, and Bar Congress, and was named Best New Restaurant 2011 by Esquire Magazine. Always in pursuit of craftsmanship and excellence, chef Bull has a winner with Congress and is supportive of the local farms.

Best Chef – Southwest: Chef Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue
If you don’t know of Aaron Franklin or Franklin Barbecue, you’ve been living under a rock.  The barbecue joint rose to fame as a food trailer and since going brick-n-mortar, Franklin and his team have continued to garner awards and national recognition to the tune of being named Best BBQ in America by Bon Appetit Magazine, routinely ranked in the top ten best barbecue joints on Thrillist’s annual list, and ranked #1 in Texas Monthly’s 50 Best BBQ Joints in the World.

Best Chef – Southwest: Chef Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine
A previous nominee and winner in this category, chef Bryce Gilmore continues to delight those who dine at Barley Swine. Sticking to his principles honed at Odd Duck Farm to Trailer, Barley Swine features a small plate season menu along with a selection of craft beers.  If you’re visiting Austin, this should be on your list of restaurants to check out. 


To check out the full list of the 2015 James Beard nominees, click here.