Top Chefs Recently Nominated by the James Beard Foundation

Prestigious James Beard Foundation announces 2023's Best Chef semifinalists in the Mountain region
Becca Alamilla Amano

Photo by Diego Alamilla

Mole Coloradito, roasted duck curry, a multi-course, omakase-style tasting menu inspired by Latin and global cuisines – these are some of the succulent offerings by the talented chefs who are in the running for one of the culinary world’s most esteemed honors- the James Beard Award. The honor, established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991, celebrates the best the restaurant industry has to offer. Meet some of the brilliant chefs who create delicious, elevated dishes in the Mountain region.

Chef: Salvador Alamilla

Restaurant: Amano

Location: Caldwell, ID

Chef/owner Salvador Alamilla was born and raised in Michoacan, Mexico. At a young age, he became captivated by his mother’s cooking.  Alamilla was amazed at how the plants cultivated by his father’s hands could be used to make the salsas and tortillas that his mother prepared.  These cooking experiences resonated with the chef and became the propellant to starting his own culinary journey. Alamilla opened Amano in September of 2019, with a menu influenced by Southern California, Michoacan, and Oaxacan style Mexican food, while incorporating local Idaho produce and game. 

Chef Salvador Alamilla

Chef Salvador Alamilla. | Photo by Vladimir Radion 

Becca Alamilla Amano

Photo by Diego Alamilla

Becca Alamilla Amano1

Photo by Diego Alamilla

Becca Alamilla Amano2

Photo by Diego Alamilla

Chef: Michael Diaz de Leon

Restaurant: BRUTØ

Location: Denver, CO

Chef Michael Diaz de Leon is a first generation Mexican-American, born in the culturally rich city of El Paso, Texas. De Leon has always been surrounded by the foods of his culture handmade by his grandmother, mother and aunts. His upbringing was unique, and he was not always encouraged to pursue his dreams. But his determination to bring culture, love and family back into the kitchen allowed him to prevail and persevere. It’s in Denver, CO where he has adopted new outlooks in the kitchen, which have helped him expand his practices to sustainable agriculture, zero waste ethos and a deep love for grains. Currently the Executive Chef partner of BRUTØ in Downtown Denver, BRUTØ is an eighteen-seat chef counter offering an omakase tasting menu featuring seasonal, core ingredients encouraging little to no waste.

Chef Michael Diaz De Leon

Chef Michael Diaz de Leon. | Photo by Jeff Feinberg

Jeff Feinberg Bruto Denver

Photo by Jeff Feinberg

Jeff Feinberg Bruto Denver1

Photo by Jeff Feinberg

Jeff Feinberg Bruto Denver2

Photo by Jeff Feinberg

Chef: Suchada Johnson

Restaurant: Teton Thai

Location: Teton Village, WY

Born in Bangkok, Thailand and emigrating to America when she was 20 yrs. old, Johnson is the co-owner of Teton Thai in Teton Village, Wyoming at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain ski resort. Known for her unique ability to combine family style meals with Thai street food style dishes, Johnson credits her family for inspiring her to become a world class chef. 

Chef Suchada Johnson

Chef Suchada Johnson. | Photo by Keegan Rice &  Courtesy of Teton Thai

Photo By Keegan Rice Chef Suchada

Photo by Keegan Rice & Courtesy of Teton Thai

Chef: Ali Sabbah

Restaurant: Mazza

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Born in 1960 in the city of Tyre, Lebanon, Sabbah moved to Utah in 1982 for his studies, graduating with a degree in Economics in 1988. The idea of opening a restaurant started germinating in his mind in his mid-twenties when he discovered a passion for cooking and experimenting with various cuisines. Sabbah opened his first Mazza restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 40. Mazza restaurant is unique in that its menu goes beyond the scope of traditional Lebanese fare, with a wide variety of dishes prepared from in-house recipes, always using the freshest ingredients. Sabbah believes in the creative use of authentic Middle Eastern sauces, spices and techniques to create complex layers of flavors that work together to make the culinary experience fulfilling. 

Chef Ali Sabbah

Chef Ali Sabbah. | Photo by Adam Finkle

Ashley Creek Chicken Kebab On Top Of House Salad

Chicken Kebab on top of House Salad. | Photo by Adam Finkle

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