Maria Mazon, owner and chef of Boca Tacos y Tequila is up for the Best Chef (Southwest Region) category. She said she found out about her nomination from Dan Gibson, director of communications at Visit Tucson, at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"I thought he was playing a practical joke on me," Mazon said. "I'm speechless. I'm happy. I'm everything."
Other local semi-finalists are Mi Nidito for Outstanding Hospitality, Don Guerra of Barrio Bread for Outstanding Baker and Stephen Paul of Hamilton Distillers for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Producer.
Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00 a.m. M.S.T. Winners of the 2020 James Beard Award will be announced at their gala in Chicago on Sunday, May 3.
The James Beard Award is the most prestigious culinary award in the United States and is coveted by chefs and service industry aficionados alike.