Austin chefs and restaurants nab five James Beard semifinal noms

Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki of Launderette. (Credit: Laura Carroll)
Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki of Launderette. (Credit: Laura Carroll)

Chef Rene Ortiz’s spirited and nostalgic East Austin restaurant Launderette has been named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant from Ortiz and his culinary partner, Laura Sawicki, opened in March of last year and quickly became a fixture on the east side. Sawicki was also named a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry chef, her second such honor. She was nominated in 2013 while at La Condesa, which she helped open.

Tyson Cole is a semifinalist for James Beard's Outstanding Chef award.
Tyson Cole is a semifinalist for James Beard’s Outstanding Chef award.

Two men very familiar with the Beard Foundation once again garnered recognition from the culinary institute. Uchi founding executive chef Tyson Cole, Beard’s 2011 Best Chef Southwest, was named one of 20 semifinalists in the country for Outstanding Chef, his first such honor, and Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine and Odd Duck earned his fourth consecutive semifinalist honor for Best Chef Southwest. He was a finalist last year, along with Austin’s Aaron Franklin, who won top honor for the Southwest in 2015.

Grae Nonas of Olamaie also earned a semifinal nod for Rising Star Chef of the Year, his second consecutive year for the honor given to “a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”

Other Texas semifinalists include Helen Greek Food and Wine (Houston), Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata in  Houston, Hugo Ortega of Caracol in Houston, Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston, Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston), Tracy Vaught of Houston’s Hugo’s, Caracol and Backstreet Café, The Pass (Houston), Teiichi Sakurai of Tein-An in Dallas, David Uygur of Lucia in Dallas, Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas, Omar Flores of Casa Rubio in Dallas, Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas (Irving) and Misti Norris of Small Brewpub in Dallas,

For the full list of semifinalists, click here. The finalists will be announced on March 15.

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