The James Beard Foundation announced their 2020 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists Wednesday morning.
This year, Tucson has four nominees to cheer on:
This is Barrio Bread's second nomination in a row. It was also the only Arizona bakery in the Outstanding Baker category. If you haven't tried their bread, you must; it is truly world class.
Mi Nidito Restaurant, one of Tucson's beloved longtime family restaurants, was the only Arizona restaurant nominated in the Outstanding Hospitality category. For more information, read our September 2019 article Mi Nidito's longstanding legacy surpasses White House-inspired fame.
Whiskey Del Bac/Hamilton Distillers was the only Arizona producer listed under the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer category.
"I'm a little shocked," Paul said. "I've always had a very profound sense of place living in Baja Arizona and love of this place. I also want to say this original idea was my wife's idea. The distillery's been a team effort over the last nine years. I have to credit my team, specifically our head distiller Nathan Thompson Avelino. He played a critical role in refining our whiskeys. My daughter Amanda helped me form the company and has been critical in our development."
The award-winning distillery established its name with its distinctive American single malt whiskey from the Great American Southwest. They are one of the few in the country that malt their own barley; they do so with mesquite fire. They are also one of the few solely devoted to making American single malt whiskey.
For the first time, I have no words," Mazon said. "I'm speechless. Literally speechless."
When Visit Tucson senior director of communications Dan Gibson congratulated her on the award, she thought he was playing a rude joke on her. Even though she has been on television shows countless times at this point, she's still speechless at the James Beard news.
According to the James Beard Foundation website, the awards ceremonies will be held in Chicago and New York:
The 2020 James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The 2020 Leadership Awards will be held on Sunday, May 3 in Chicago, and the 2020 Media Awards will take place on Friday, April 24, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
For more information, visit jamesbeard.org.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...