HOUSTON (KTRK) --The nation's best-known culinary organization, the James Beard Foundation, released the semifinalists for its prestigious annual chef and restaurant awards on Wednesday and Houston is represented in nearly every category.
The James Beard Awards are considered "the Oscars" of food and five chefs from Houston will compete in the Best Chef: Southwest category. They include Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, Hugo Ortega of Caracol and Hugo's, Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of the Pass and Justin Yu of Oxheart.
Yu said the nominations show Houston has some of the best restaurants in the country.
"I think that we're very progressive in the way that we cook. I think that we have really fantastic ingredients, farmers. We obviously have the Gulf which is amazing for great seafood," said Yu.
Helen Greek Food and Wine in Rice Village is nominated in the Best New Restaurant category.
"You know that we also want to congratulate all the other great places in Houston," said Evan Turner with Helen Greek Food and Wine. "Houston in general had a great showing this year. A great showing they all deserve kudos. Its just a great indicator of how great Houston's doing food wise."
Houston's Tracy Vaught (of Hugo's, Caracol, and Backstreet) is nominated in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Also in Houston, the Pass is nominated in the Outstanding Service category and Anvil Bar & Refuge earned a nomination for Outstanding Bar Program.
The 2016 James Beard Awards Gala, hosted by chef Carla Hall of ABC's The Chew, will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2.
See the full list of semifinalists here.