Six of San Antonio’s food and beverage powerhouses were recognized Wednesday as semifinalists in the prestigious James Beard Awards.
For Best Chef: Texas, nominations include Nicola Blaque, of The Jerk Shack; Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia and Sean Wen, of Curry Boys BBQ; and John Russ, of Clementine.
Best Quality Daughter’s Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin also was nominated in the Emerging Chef category while Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine, was named an Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker semifinalist and Weathered Souls Brewing Co. received an Outstanding Bar nomination.
In nearby Seguin, Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, of the Burnt Bean Co., also were named Best Chef: Texas semifinalists. The category’s other nominees come from Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Mission, El Paso and Socorro.
Not familiar with all of the semifinalists? Get to know them here.
The Jerk Shack started in a small location on the West Side in 2018 and expanded a year ago to a new, larger restaurant off Highway 151 on the city’s Far West Side, where it still serves the Caribbean food that put it on the map. Blaque is an Army veteran and Culinary Institute of America – San Antonio grad. She also owns Mi Roti in the Bottling Dept. at Pearl. The Jerk Shack was named a Best Restaurant by San Antonio Magazine in 2021 and a Best New Restaurant by GQ magazine in 2020.
Curry Boys BBQ is known for its Southeast Asian curry and Texas barbecue fusion bowls that are served out of a small pink shack on St. Mary’s Street. It’s the brainchild of Sean Wen and Andrew Ho, of Pinch Boil House, and Andrew Samia, of South BBQ. It was one of San Antonio Magazine’s 2021 Best of the City winners.
John Russ and his wife/pastry chef Elise Russ debuted Clementine in Castle Hills in 2018. A transplant from New Orleans, John Russ studied at Delgado Culinary and worked with The Capella Group and at The Ritz Carlton before moving to San Antonio to lead the kitchen at the now-shuttered Lüke. Clementine was named a Best Restaurant by San Antonio Magazine in 2021.
Best Quality Daughter was also one of San Antonio Magazine’s Best Restaurants in 2021. It started as a pop-up in 2018 and by November 2020 had grown into a full-service restaurant at Pearl. Dobbertin named the restaurant for a line in The Joy Luck Club that nods to the sometimes-complex relationships between Chinese-born moms and their Chinese American daughters, and her menu reflects that same fusion with creative takes on Asian-American cuisine.
Anne Ng and partner Jeremy Mandrell met while working for Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley and have been piling up accolades for their baked goods since launching Bakery Lorraine as a farmers market stand in 2011. It quickly grew into a restaurant and now is known for its macarons, croissants, muffins and sweet treats that are served at six locations in San Antonio, Austin and Boerne. It has won multiple San Antonio Magazine Best of the City awards over the years.
Weathered Souls recently expanded to include a second taproom in Charlotte, North Carolina but it started in San Antonio in 2017 thanks to founder Mike Holt and head brewer Marcus Baskerville. Baskerville launched a Black is Beautiful beer that grew to include variations at breweries around the country. He and the brewery have gained national attention since then for their beers and their work to support social justice through their brand. Weathered Souls has also been named a San Antonio Magazine Best of the City winner.
Both Russ and Servantes/Kirkland were also semifinalists in the Best Chef: Texas category in 2022. This is the first time in six years that Steve McHugh, of Cured at Pearl, was not included in the nominations.
The James Beard Foundation will announce finalists on March 29 and celebrate the winners during a June 5 event in Chicago.