Best in Texas: Mission chef takes home prestigious James Beard Award

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The Vampiro taco at Ana Liz Taqueria, which is the best seller, is seen on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Mission. The Vampiro is on a blue tostada with aguacate, cheese, fajita, onions, tomatos and cilantro. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

The best chef in Texas is from the Rio Grande Valley.

The James Beard Foundation announced the winners of the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Tuesday, and one of the two Rio Grande Valley nominees took home the prestigious award.

Ana Liz Pulido of Ana Liz Taqueria in Mission took home the award for Best Chef in Texas. Pulido was nominated for the second consecutive year, an impressive feat considering that the restaurant has only been open since ​​May of 2021.

According to a news release, the award recognizes “Chefs who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions, while contributing positively to their broader community.”

Ana Liz Pulido poses with the Best Chef Texas award during the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards at Lyric Opera Of Chicago on June 10, 2024, in Chicago, Illinois. (Courtesy: Galdones Photography via the James Beard Foundation)

Since opening its doors, Pulido has made a name for herself and her restaurant with her made-from-scratch tortillas, savory meats and a wide array of salsas.

In order to take home the Best Chef: Texas James Beard Award, Pulido beat out renowned chefs from north and central Texas, including Emmanuel Chavez of Tatemó in Houston; Christopher Cullum of Cullum’s Attaboy in San Antonio; Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel of Birdie’s in Austin; and Misti Norris of Petra and the Beast in Dallas.

​​”Tonight, we raise a glass to the 2024 Restaurant and Chef Award winners for their phenomenal achievements,” James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach said in the news release. “These remarkable individuals embody the very essence of our Good Food for Good ethos, showcasing exceptional talent, unwavering dedication to their craft, and a steadfast commitment to elevating the industry. With their passion, skill, and leadership, they are shaping our nation’s dining landscape and setting a new standard for culinary excellence.”

Also nominated for a second consecutive year was Las Ramblas at Market Square in Brownsville. Las Ramblas was nominated for the James Beard Award in the Outstanding Bar category, but lost to ​​Jewel of the South, New Orleans, Louisiana.