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Puerto Rico Chefs Are Now Eligible For James Beard Awards

It may be a while before Puerto Rico achieves statehood, but for now, being allowed to compete for James Beard Awards is a fair consolation prize. Good news for chefs like Wilo Benet and José Santaella, but bad news for all the celebrity chefs of poor, neglected Guam.

The James Beard Foundation announced today that they were redistricting the regions eligible for the James Beard Awards, and their gerrymandering led to two major changes: not only will chefs from Puerto Rico be able to compete against Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas for “Best Chef South” (as well as be eligible for other national awards), Nevada is no longer considered part of the Southwest.  Instead, Nevada, with all their fancy chefs and casino money, will compete against California and Hawaii in the new “Best Chef West” category.

“Reducing the geographic size of the Southwest region will give chefs and restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and Oklahoma a demographically appropriate chance to compete for a Beard award,” said Providence Cicero, who is the chair of the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee and not a character from The Hunger Games. And that makes a lot of sense, when you consider that Las Vegas has a large smattering of high-quality seafood restaurants in the middle of the desert and Utah, well, doesn’t.

[h/t Grub Street NY]

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