(NEXSTAR) – About two dozen lucky (and undoubtedly hardworking) chefs and restaurant teams around the country received one of the food world’s top honors this week. The James Beard Award winners were announced Monday at a ceremony in Chicago.
One of the chefs honored is from Houston, as Benchawan Jabthong Painter won for Best Chef in the state of Texas.
Painter operates a Central Park area restaurant near downtown called “Street to Kitchen,” which specializes in Thai cuisine. Painter, who also goes by “G,” is the first Houston-area chef to win the award.
Even though Texas had the most nominations of any state for the national James Beard awards, no Texas restaurant or bar won a national award.
Los Angeles restaurants, or one of their chefs, took home the top prize in three categories.
Margarita Manzke, of French restaurant and bakery République, won the prize for outstanding pastry chef or baker. On weekend mornings, passersby will often see a line snaking outside the restaurant as people wait for pastries or a brunch seat.
Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Bill Addison wrote in 2019 he found himself recommending République more than any other restaurant. Addison recommends the raspberry pistachio kouign amann, a flavorful twist on the buttery viennoiserie pastry from the Brittany region of France.
Another local winner was Echo Park’s OTOTO. The sake bar won for its outstanding beverage program.
“We signed the lease for OTOTO back in 2017 without a plan,” the restaurant posted on Instagram following the win. “But! What we came to realize, slowly, was the LA wanted to drink sake. This city wanted to hear the stories of these centuries-old breweries, and drink sake with cheese plates and oden and oysters … We’re so proud of our entire team, past and present, for building this.”
The final local win went to Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks for best chef in California.
The restaurant hosts a monthly $195 tasting menu, but also does weekly Thai Taco Tuesday. Other nights of the week, their menu features curries, Southern-Thai fried chicken, and wok-fried veggie and noodle dishes.
The first James Beard Awards were given out in 1991. They “celebrate excellence across a range of experiences—from fine dining establishments to casual gems, and emerging talent to established masters,” the foundation says.
This year, other big winners included restaurants in Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Kansas City, Missouri; and Honolulu. Los Angeles was the only California city to receive any awards.