The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists today (for the annual James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards, to be given Monday, June 13, 2022 in Chicago. The Awards, which began in 1991, are among the highest honors for a chef, restaurant, baker, or bar to receive in the United States.


Continuing a streak of three consecutive years where a Tucsonan was nominated, kicked off with El Guero Canelo winning an America’s Classic Award in 2018, three Tucson culinary icons were among this year’s nominees – Don Guerra of Barrio Bread (his third nomination for Outstanding Baker), Maria Mazon of Boca Tacos y Tequila (her second nomination for Best Chef, Southwest), and John Martinez of Tito & Pep (his first nomination for Best Chef, Southwest).


“Since Tucson’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in December of 2015, recognition for the unique culture, environment and talent here in Southern Arizona has continued to justifiably increase,” Dan Gibson, senior director of communications at Visit Tucson said. “It’s certainly an honor to see Tucsonans honored with nominations, and hopefully we’ll be able to see a few of these three make it to the finals in Chicago.”


These nominations also continue a very strong recent run of recognition of Tucson’s culinary bona fides in the media, following Chef Mazon’s appearance on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2021, a profile of Don Guerra in the New York Times in October of 2021, plus feature stories in the UK’s National Geographic Food magazine (January 2022 issue) and the March issue of Bon Appetit (currently on newsstands). “Visit Tucson’s PR and Communications team is constantly searching for opportunities to promote our truly unique gastronomic scene here,” Gibson added, “the Beard Awards are part of that strategy and there is still a lot of recognition to come.”


A complete list of the nominees can be found at the James Beard Foundation’s site: