Kevin Binkley Passed Over Again at the 2014 James Beard Awards

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

It turns out the third time was not the charm for Arizona's only James Beard Award finalist this year. The annual culinary awards were held Monday night at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Much to the disappointment of many Arizonans, chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek, Bink's Midtown, and Bink's Scottsdale did not win Best Chef: Southwest, an award for which he has been named a finalist the last three years.

See also: Kevin Binkley Stiffed (Again) at the 2013 James Beard Awards

This year, Arizona had six semifinalists -- three in the Best Chef: Southwest category, one for Best New Restaurant, one for Outstanding Restaurateur, and one for Outstanding Restaurant. Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe and Charleen Badman joined Binkley in the nominations for the regional award, while chef Gio Osso's Virtu got the nod for the highly competitive Best New Restaurant Award. Sam Fox won the Outstanding Restauranteur nomination and Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco made the Outstanding Restaurant list. Restaurants must have been open for at least 10 years to quality for that award.

Binkley was the only nominee to move on to the final round. The chef, known for his molecular gastronomy, is widely accepted as the best chef in the city and state.

But instead of Binkley, Houston chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly won the Best Chef: Southwest award this year. Shepherd was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in 2013.

Interestingly, chef Christopher Gross said that the Best New Chef list tends to be a good indicator of those who stand to win James Beard awards during the James Beard Award Winner panel at the Check, Please! Arizona Festival earlier this year.

Nine Arizona chefs have won the Best Chef: Southwest award in the past. Those chefs include: Nobuo Fukuda, Sea Saw, in 2007; Bradford Thompson, Mary Elaine's, in 2006; Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco, in 2003; Robert McGrath, Roaring Fork, in 2001; Janos Wilder, Janos, in 2000; RoxSand Scocos, RoxSand's, in 1999; Alex Stratta, Mary Elaine's, in 1998; Christopher Gross, Christopher's, in 1995; and Vincent Guerithault, Vincent on Camelback, in 1993.

As disappointing as it is to see Phoenix's own get passed over for a third year, it's worth pointing out that many chefs and restaurants go years without taking home a medal despite annual nominations. Binkley is by no means alone.

Winners are chosen by a committee of restaurant critics, magazine editors, food journalists, and cookbook writers across the country and many, including the very-vocal Anthony Bourdain, have criticized the awards for being an elitist popularity contest that overlooks minorities and women.

And, apparently, Kevin Binkley. Better luck next year, chef.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.