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'It's already a win for us' | Houston chefs, restaurant owners await James Beard Awards

The James Beards Awards are Monday at 6 p.m. in Chicago.

HOUSTON — Some of Houston's most notable chefs are headed to Chicago this weekend to find out the winner of this year's prestigious James Beard Awards.

Houston's Lucille's snagged its first nomination for Outstanding Restauranteur in 2022. 

"It’s quite an honor," said owner Chris Williams. "It’s essentially like the Oscars of the food world."

Fans of Julep Bar on Washington Avenue are ready to celebrate owner Alba Huerta whose craft cocktails, like the Bayou City Bandit, could earn her Outstanding Bar Program. 

"I can’t wait. I can’t wait," Huerta said with excitement. "The ultimate thing is that we get to represent our city. We get to represent Houston on these national platforms.

RELATED: These Houston chefs, restaurants are among the best in the country

This weekend will be the first awards the James Beard Foundation has given in two years. The prestigious honor recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality and media. 

Testing panelists visit all nominees undercover. 

Among the potential winners, the Ortega brothers. 

Ruben, the dessert master at Xochi, is nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Brother Hugo and his namesake are nominated for Outstanding Hospitality. 

"And that’s where I go, to Xochi or Hugo’s," Williams said. "Like if I’m eating in Houston, that’s where I’m going."

RELATED: Houston food scene on fire with four James Beard finalists and popular 'Top Chef' filming in H-Town

If you're hoping to go somewhere this summer, consider a culinary journey through all six James Beard nominees from Houston. 

You can line up early for brisket at Bellaire's Blood Brothers where Quy Hoang is serving backyard bar-b-que vibes. He and the team behind Xin Chào are competing for Outstanding Chef in Texas. 

Tony Nguyen said he's happy to see Houston represented so well. 

"Hopefully, we bring the W home for H-Town," he said.

Williams said this is a wake-up call to all the amazing restaurants in Houston.

"They’re so diverse and so different that you have them right here in your backyard," Williams said. "To make it to the finals, that’s already a win for us."

The James Beards Awards are Monday at 6 p.m. in Chicago. The event will be streamed live on the foundation's Twitter page.

Melissa Correa on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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