Chef Steve McHugh poses for a photo near the entry way to Cured. Photo by Scott Ball.
Chef Steve McHugh has made it to the second round as a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The only San Antonio chef named a semifinalist for this year’s “Oscars” of food has made it into the second round, for the third year in a row, and another step toward winning the top prize.

The James Beard Foundation announced Wednesday that renowned Chef Steve McHugh is a finalist for its Best Chef of the Southwest award. It’s the third time McHugh has been named a finalist in the category and he is the only San Antonio chef nominated this year.

Following the semi-finalist announcement in February, McHugh gave credit to the staff at Cured, the restaurant he opened at the Pearl in 2013. “What we accomplish as a team is far greater than what I can achieve as an individual,” he said.

McHugh is among five chefs named finalists in the Southwest, including Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Kevin Fink, Emmer & Rye, Austin; Michael Fojtasek, Olamaie, Austin, and Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin.

McHugh was a James Beard semi-finalist in 2016 and a finalist the following two years. Last year, the award went to Chef Alex Seidel of Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver.

Prior to the 2018 ceremony, McHugh told the Rivard Report, “Win or lose … you’re part of the conversation … San Antonio doesn’t always get to be part of the conversation. So I’m really honored to be up here representing the city.”

Winners will be announced at the 2019 James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago on May 6. McHugh said he plans to attend.

“It has been an aspiration of mine – once Cured reached its potential and earned the respect of our loyal patrons – to achieve a James Beard Foundation nomination, the highest acknowledgment possible in any culinary career,” he said in an email to the Rivard Report on Wednesday evening.

“After having beaten cancer, one of life’s greatest challenges, I am grateful that I can dedicate my days to my passions – cooking and sharing considerable contributions to my community in the southwest region of the United States … The realization of this dream would deem it possible that individuals devoted to this profession, no matter how small or large their city, are worthy and deserving of this recognition.”

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.