Hugo Ortega Named a 2012 James Beard Award Finalist

Categories: News

hugo_6581-thumb-250x372.jpg
Photo courtesy of Paula Murphy
Ortega in his garden with tomatoes.
After racking up an impressive amount of semifinalist nods for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards, Houston had only one finalist for the annual "Oscars of food," announced today in Las Vegas.

One of the most interesting things about the six semifinalists was how accurately they represent the current culinary climate of Houston: Three of the four chefs were foreign-born, cooking the type of well-received ethnic food in high-end restaurants that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.

The fourth chef, Grant Gordon of Tony's, represents the slew of talented young turks who have come back home to Houston to shake up the food scene. And seeing Anvil Bar & Refuge in the Outstanding Bar Program category only gives more fuel to the driving force of young bar owners like Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd who are equally intent on shaking up the spirits world one drink at a time.

This year, it was Hugo Ortega of namesake restaurant Hugo's who made it through as a finalist in the Best Chef: Southwest category.

At Hugo's, Ortega pioneered both upscale and interior Mexican food in Houston. He also has been a vital voice in the ongoing local foods movement. The restaurant, which Ortega owns with his wife Tracy Vaught, has been widely regarded as one of the city's best restaurants for almost a decade.

And in the journalism categories (which were also announced today), longtime Houston food critic Alison Cook -- who was also the Press restaurant critic for many years -- was nominated for a Craig Claiborne award for her reviews at the Houston Chronicle. The Craig Claiborne award is named for the revered New York Times food critic and is considered one of the most prestigious categories in the entire awards program.

Winners will be announced at the James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday, May 7, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.



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Location Info

Hugo's

1600 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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12 comments
trizza nizza
trizza nizza

your portrayal of Anvil / Huegel / Floyd is vibrant, you say they are "intent on shaking up the spirits world one drink at a time."

in contrast, your description of Ortega is lackluster and uninspired. In your words, he "made it through" as finalist. And you say Hugo's "has been widely regarded as one of the city's best restaurants..." The implication being that YOU don't believe Hugo's is among the city's best restaurants.

Even the photo caption is white bread. If those tomatoes belonged to Walsh, Caswell or Hugel, you would have described them as a coddled, hand grown, rare strain fit only for consumption by beings higher than ourselves.

admit it. you're pissed Hugo got nominated. we can read between the lines

Donnarite
Donnarite

Hugo! Yes.Alison Cook! I think it's about time she is nominated for something; she's been writing for what like 45 years. And she was good.

tastybits
tastybits

Couldn't agree more about James Beard Awards semi-finalist nominations accurately reflecting Houston. JBA wobbles in it's relevancy at times, but it has been getting better and better recently. 

Robert
Robert

Be honest... you 'liked' your own comment, didn't you?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

This is literally such an insane comment that I can't even think of a viable response to it, because you can't argue with crazy. The only other possible explanation here is that we have a pretty talented (although still questionably sane) troll on our hands.

Robert
Robert

Holyshitfuck are you off... "At Hugo's, Ortega pioneered both upscale and interior Mexican food in Houston. He also has been a vital voice in the ongoing local foods movement." That sounds like she's pissed off at the nomination?"has been widely regarded as one of the city's best restaurants" says to me that it's a consensus about the quality of Hugo's, not just her opinion.

Bradg
Bradg

 What a bizarre take on this blog post!  Why would you go out of your way to basically make up someone's "intent" like this?  I really don't get you commentors sometimes....the anger and hatred you spew is stunning. 

JB
JB

 If this person could consistently Zapruder posts like that to reveal absurd malicious agendas it would be one of the greatest trolls of our time. 

ec
ec

How true Chansondeguer! How true.  Too much catering to her friends.  Enough already

Omphaloskepsist
Omphaloskepsist

....as opposed to the fine, irreproachably ethical food critics at the Houston Press, who NEVER, EVER, cater to their friends. {cough]

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