Cristina Martinez wins best chef in mid-Atlantic at James Beard Awards
Cristina Martinez, of South Philly Barbacoa, was named best chef in the mid-Atlantic at the James Beard Awards Monday night.
- Martinez beat out two other Philadelphia chefs for the nod: Jesse Ito of Royal Izakaya, and Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon of Kalaya Thai Kitchen.
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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