Jun 13, 2022 - Food and Drink

Cristina Martinez wins best chef in mid-Atlantic at James Beard Awards

Cristina Martinez is the chef at South Philly Barbacoa

Cristina Martinez is the chef at South Philly Barbacoa. Photo Courtesy of Cristina Martinez

Cristina Martinez, of South Philly Barbacoa, was named best chef in the mid-Atlantic at the James Beard Awards Monday night.

Why it matters: The awards, among the most prestigious in the industry, are the gold standard for the culinary world, drawing customers and food critics alike to the winners' restaurants.

Zoom in: A native of Capulhuac, Mexico, Martinez finally broke through to win the award after coming up short as a finalist twice.

What she's saying: "For me, it means representing my community of restaurants," Martinez told Axios Chicago's Monica Eng. "For me, Philadelphia is my home, my meat and my blood."

  • "For the food industry it means that things are changing for Latino food ... because we are here thanks to the awards representing our Latino community here," she added.

Flashback: The awards ceremony was canceled in 2020 and 2021 as the industry grappled with the pandemic and systemic racism.

Of note: Ellen Yin of High Street Hospitality Group, which includes Philadelphia's Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street and more, was nominated for outstanding restaurateur, but lost out to Phoenix's Chris Bianco.


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