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2 Austin chefs win 2022 James Beard Awards

A couple of Austin chefs are bringing the Emerging Chef and Best Chef: Texas awards to Central Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — The James Beard Foundation recently announced its list of 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards winners, and the list includes two of Austin's very own. 

Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria on East 12th Street won the Emerging Chef category. The Emerging Chef award recognizes a "chef who displays exceptional talent, character and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in the years to come." 

When Rico won the award, he mentioned how he and his fiancé almost went bankrupt opening their restaurant.

"This is huge for la raza. This is huge for my people. For all the taqueros, anything is possible," he said.

Iliana de la Vega, chef and co-owner of El Naranjo on South Lamar Boulevard, won in the first-ever Best Chef: Texas category.

"Words can't begin to express how proud we are of Chef Iliana for this monumental honor. We're blown away by the recognition of her lifelong contributions to the culinary industry and her endless commitment to showing us what traditional Mexican food is all about. Thank you for everything you do, now and always," El Naranjo said via an Instagram post. 

The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to "celebrate, support and elevate the people behind America's food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity and sustainability." The nonprofit, which was established more than 30 years ago, is based in New York City.

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