A slew of chefs have been nominated for the Southwest category of Food + Wine magazine's new The People's Best New Chef contest -- ten in all, from Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Texas -- but there's only one representing our great state: Chris Curtiss, executive chef of Noca.
It's not surprising to see Curtiss on the list; just six months after Noca opened, the restaurant was named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in the 2009 James Beard Awards.
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Why aren't there any others from Arizona, though? Speaking of the Beard awards, whose semifinalists were announced yesterday, there's plenty of local talent who'd be worthy of joining Curtiss on the ballot.
To look at the lineup of regional nominees, it looks like the Food + Wine editors have been spending a hell of a lot of time in Texas. I hope they take more time in 2011 to check out our scene.
(According to Noca owner Eliot Wexler, the nominees were chosen by the magazine's staffers, and being nominated for The People's New Chef does not preclude any of the participants from also being nominated for Food + Wine's long-running Best New Chef competition.)
Online voting is going on now through March 1, and ten finalists will be determined by which chefs have the most votes per region. Get out the vote, yo!