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Cincinnati chef Jose Salazar named James Beard Award nominee

hand, palm upward, holds a James Beard Foundation Award For Excellence medallion. The person is wearing a black and white tuxedo.
Courtesy 2023 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards
Eliesa Johnson

Cincinnati chef Jose Salazar is one step closer to earning the designation of "James Beard Award winner." Salazar has been named a nominee for the 2024 Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH).

The other four nominees in the category are: Vinnie Cimino, Cordelia, Cleveland; Sujan Sarkar, Indienne, Chicago; Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, MI; and Jenner Tomaska, Esmé, Chicago.

"Yes chef! Thrilled for our commander in chief and a huge congratulations to each fellow nominee on the list for 2024," his restraurant, Mita's, posted on Facebook. "Cheers to another year of outstanding eats at Mita’s and beyond."

As WVXU previously reported:

Salazar was on the finalist list along with fellow Cincinnati chefs Erik Bentz and Elaine Uykimpang Bentz of Café Mochiko and Jeffery Harris of Nolia Kitchen. Semifinalists were announced Jan. 24.

The restaurant and chef awards will be announced Monday, June 10.

RELATED: 3 Cincinnati restaurants named James Beard Award finalists

Salazar's team at Mita's posted on Facebook at the time, saying, "We are so excited and honored to be amongst this year's excellent group of nominees for the 2024 James Beard Awards! Congratulations to our fellow Ohioans - @mochikocincy, @noliacincinnati, @eatchapmans!"

Three of the four were semifinalists in 2023, as well, under different categories:

  • Mita's, nominated for Outstanding Restaurant
  • Nolia, nominated for Best New Restaurant
  • Elaine Uykimpang Bentz of Café Mochiko, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

"We are so excited to honor this year's semifinalists who embody the spirit of excellence that defines the James Beard Awards," said Dawn Padmore, vice president of awards, in a release. "I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the years to come."

The James Beard Awards were created in 1990 and "recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive."

Camp Washington Chili holds Cincinnati's only James Beard Award. It won in the America's Classics category in 2000.

Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel was a nominee (2000, 2001, 2006) and semifinalist (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013) multiple times.

LISTEN: Members of Cincinnati's food scene remember Jean-Robert

Chef Salazar has been a semifinalist six times in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023, all for Mita's.

Chef Ryan Santos was a semifinalist in 2020 and Chef Elaine Uykimpang Bentz was a semifinalist in 2022 (under the name Elaine Townsend) and 2023.

Updated: April 3, 2024 at 12:29 PM EDT
This story was first published on Jan. 24, 2024 and has been updated to reflect the shortened list of nominees.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.