Each spring, the James Beard Foundation recognizes the best of American food and beverage with the annual James Beard Awards. Often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world,” the awards honor chefs, restaurants, restaurateurs, bars, beverage producers and more – and Greater Phoenix is the proud home to more than a handful of nominees, semifinalists and winners.

Explore some of our past winner and nominees, as well as the most recent nominees from Greater Phoenix.

Past Winners

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Best Chef: Southwest


In 2019, chef Charleen Badman of FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale took home one of the night’s biggest prizes, the Best Chef: Southwest award. Badmans’ vegetable-centric restaurant and menu of local, seasonal produce helped her earn the title over chefs from Texas and Colorado, a feat an Arizona chef hadn’t accomplished in more than a decade.


Other Best Chef: Southwest winners include Chris Bianco, who won the award in 2003 for his world-famous restaurant Pizzeria Bianco and Roaring Fork chef Robert McGrath in 2001.


Rewind a little farther back to when some of Greater Phoenix’s most time-honored chefs took home this award. The list includes chef Vincent Guerithault who, in 1993, earned the recognition for his namesake Southwest-influenced French restaurant Vincent’s on Camelback, which remains open today. Christopher Gross also received the award in 1995 for his now-closed French dining restaurant Christopher’s. Gross recently reopened his restaurant at the Wrigley Mansion in a glass-enclosed space with sweeping views of Camelback Mountain.


Phoenix chef RoxSand Scocos also won the Best Chef: Southwest award in 1999 for her now-closed restaurant RoxSand, along with chef Alessandro Stratta, who was cooking at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician resort in 1998. Stratta returned to Greater Phoenix in 2016, and after launching several concepts, has been recruited to oversee the food and beverage operations of the Fairmont Phoenix downtown, slated to open in 2024.


Top Phoenix chefs Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe and Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s have both earned their place on the semifinalist list numerous times, and Phoenix-based restaurateur Sam Fox has been named a semifinalist for the Outstanding Restaurateur award more than 10 times for his work on such concepts as North Italia, Flower Child, Zinburger, Culinary Dropout, and True Food Kitchen.


Best New Restaurant of the Year


In addition to chef awards, the James Beard Foundation names one American restaurant the Best New Restaurant of the Year, a recognition for which at least four Greater Phoenix restaurants have been considered. In 2022, modern Latin restaurant Vecina made the list of semifinalists after wowing diners with dishes including white bean puree with crispy short rib and hiramasa ceviche, featuring grilled pineapple and coconut leche de tigre.


The foundation named chef Gio Osso’s Mediterranean-influenced Virtu Honest Craft a semifinalist for the award in 2014, as well as chef Shinji Kurita’s ShinBay, now open in Old Town Scottsdale, in 2012, and chef Aaron Chamberlin’s St. Francis in 2010. 


America’s Classics


The foundation also names restaurants as America’s Classics every year, an award which recognizes restaurants for being timeless and beloved regional eateries. Phoenix’s America’s Classics winners include The Fry Bread House, a family-owned restaurant serving sweet and savory Native American fry bread; and El Chorro Lodge, the Paradise Valley restaurant with a sprawling patio and stunning views of the Valley.


2022 Semifinalists

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Greater Phoenix's 2022 James Beard Award Semifinalists


Best Chef — Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)


Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Chris Bianco of Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix 


Outstanding Chef


Outstanding Restaurant


Emerging Chef 


Best New Restaurant


Outstanding Pastry Chef


Outstanding Hospitality


Outstanding Wine Program

  • Kai at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix 

2023 Nominees

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Greater Phoenix's 2023 James Beard Award Nominees


Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

  • Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno of Bacanora in Phoenix

  • Fernando Hernandez of Testal in Phoenix

  • Yotaka and Alex Martin of Lom Wong in Phoenix


Outstanding Chef

  • Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe


Outstanding Bakery

  • JL Patisserie in Phoenix and Scottsdale


Outstanding Pastry Chef

  • Crystal Kass of Valentine in Phoenix


Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

  • Glai Baan in Phoenix