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May 23, 2023

The reputation of Filipino culinary talent in the United States is on an all-time high as three chefs of Filipino descent have managed to score nominations at the prestigious James Beard Awards.

Two California-based pastry chefs were named as finalists for the category “Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker:” Vince Bugtong of ABACÁ in San Francisco, and Margarita Manzke of République in Los Angeles. 

Manzke is also one of the founders of the widely successful Wildflour Café + Bakery chain in Manila, where her sister Ana serves as its president and CEO.

Meanwhile, Aaron Verzosa of the Seattle-based Filipino restaurant Archipelago was nominated for the category of “Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific.” Verzosa heads the fine dining restaurant with his wife Amber Manuguid, where they explore the flavors of their heritage mixed with Pacific Northwest produce and influences in a seasonal, multi-course tasting menu that represents their diasporic identity. The restaurant landed on The New York Times’ list of the most exciting restaurants in America in 2021.

Other Filipino chefs have previously won the acclaimed James Beard Award, touted as the “Oscars of the food world.” Tom Cunanan, who previously helmed award-winning conceptual Filipino restaurant Bad Saint in Washington DC, won the title of James Beard’s Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic from 2017 to 2019.

Meanwhile, New York City-based sommelier and writer Miguel de Leon won the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for his long-form essay, “It’s Time to Decolonize Wine”, which contextualized his experiences as a Filipino and a person of color in the wine industry.

The James Beard Awards “recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.”

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