It’s that time of year again: The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2024 chef and restaurant semifinalists. And six Las Vegas-area chefs have received the designation.
The James Beard Awards are often heralded as one of the most prestigious nights in the food industry (a separate ceremony for James Beard Foundation Media Award winners is held ahead of the restaurant and chef program). The organization has seen some transformation since its two-year pause in 2020 and 2021, notably taking measures to diversify its voting committee, casting a wider net to identify chefs and restaurants that merit award recognition, identifying behavior and conduct that goes against its code of ethics, and to that end, establishing an Ethics Committee to operate independently from the awards committee.
This year, the Best Chef: Southwest category sees Las Vegas chefs DJ Flores, of modern Mexican restaurant Milpa, and Brian Howard, of Chinatown’s experimental Sparrow + Wolf, as semifinalists, as well as Henderson chef Steve Kerstler of Aroma Latin American Cocina, which explores Guatemalan and other Central and South American cuisines. Oscar Amador Edo is a semifinalist in the overall Outstanding Chef category for his work at Anima by EDO (he was recognized as a finalist for the Best Chef: Southwest category in 2023). And Kimmie and Josh Mcintosh received a joint Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker semifinalist nod for their MILKFISH Bakeshop, which uses Filipino ingredients and flavors in its compelling array of baked goods.
In 2023, five Vegas chefs were named finalists for Best Chef: Southwest: Anima chefs Oscar Amador and Francesco Di Caudo, Kaoru Azeuchi of Kaiseki Yuzu, Jimmy Li of xiao long bao destination ShangHai Taste, and Yip Cheung of Red Plate at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Downtown wine bar Garagiste received a semifinalist nod for Outstanding Bar.
This year, chef and restaurant finalists and achievement award honorees will be announced on April 3; winners will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on June 10, 2024. Here are the semifinalists, once more:
Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)
- DJ Flores, Milpa, Las Vegas, NV
- Brian Howard, Sparrow + Wolf, Las Vegas, NV
- Steve Kestler, Aroma Latin American Cocina, Henderson, NV
- Oscar Amador Edo, Anima by EDO, Las Vegas, NV
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
- Kimmie Mcintosh and Josh Mcintosh, MILKFISH Bakeshop, Las Vegas, NV
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.