Cincinnati State culinary graduate is nominated for top national award

Chef Francisco Alfaro of Mid-City Restaurant, a 2012 graduate of Cincinnati State’s Culinary Arts program, is a semifinalist for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region in the annual awards presented by the James Beard Foundation.

The James Beard Awards are considered one of the highest honors for chefs, bakers, bartenders, and restaurateurs across the country.

Chef Grace Yek, Program Chair for Cincinnati State’s Culinary & Food Science bachelor’s degree, noted in an interview with Spectrum News that “winning a James Beard Award is like winning an Oscar if you were in the film industry.”

In addition to Chef Alfaro, five other Cincinnati restaurants and chefs have been recognized as semifinalists for the 2023 awards. The finalists will be announced March 29 and the awards will be presented in June.

Chef Yek and others have observed that culinary achievements in Cincinnati typically don’t get as much attention in the James Beard competition as Chicago restaurants and chefs. The Great Lakes region encompasses restaurants in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.

Chef Yek added, “To get the formal acknowledgment and award by a prestigious organization such as the James Beard Foundation is to have accomplished another level of professional growth.”

In September 2022, Mid-City Restaurant was one of two local culinary establishments that appeared on Bon Appetit magazine’s list of “50 Best New Restaurants.”

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization that “celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive.”

The awards are named for James Beard, “America’s First Foodie,” who was an influential cookbook author, teacher, and mentor to countless numbers of chefs and culinary students.