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Cincinnati's Cafe Mochiko, Mita's among 2023 James Beard semifinalists

Six Cincinnati restaurants, chefs were named semifinalists
James Beard Awards
Posted at 5:24 PM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 17:24:32-05

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati restaurant industry is getting some much-deserved national recognition as the 2023 James Beard semifinalists were announced Wednesday.

The James Beard Awards are considered some of the most prestigious awards for the restaurant industry in the nation. To put it plainly, they're basically the Oscars of the food world.

Among the awards' multiple categories, two restaurants and four chefs from Cincinnati were honored.

Jose Salazar's Mita's, located in downtown Cincinnati, made the shortlist for Outstanding Restaurant in the nation. The restaurant — which serves a variety of Latin American cuisine, tapas and more — was among 20 semifinalists for the honor.

The James Beard Foundation describes the category as restaurants that demonstrate "consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community."

Nolia, which is tucked away on Clay Street and 14th Street in Over-the-Rhine, was recognized as one of the Best New Restaurants.

To be a nominee for the category, the eatery had to open between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2022.

Chef Elaine Uykimpang Bentz of Cafe Mochiko is also getting some recognition in the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker category. Bentz is one of two chefs at Cafe Mochiko, an Asian American cafe in East Walnut Hills.

Cafe Mochiko was previously recognized as one of Bon Appetit's Top 50 new restaurants of 2022.

Alongside Cafe Mochiko, Mid-City Restaurant in downtown Cincinnati was also recognized by both Bon Appetit and the James Beard Awards.

Chef Fancisco Alfaro of Mid-City was listed among the semifinalists for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Besides Alfaro, both chefs at Kiki in College Hill — Hideki and Yoku Haradar — were named among the Great Lakes' Best Chef semifinalists.

Finalists for the James Beard Awards will be announced on March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 5 in Chicago.

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