Rafael Rios of Yeyo's Mexican Grill in Bentonville is one of 20 semifinalists for the 30th annual James Beard Awards' Best Chef: South.
Rios will be competing with chefs in a region that encompasses Alabama, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The James Beard Foundation handed out the list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists on Wednesday. The foundation will announce the finalists on March 25 and hand out the awards at a gala May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Rios wil be vying for the award against chefs from New Orleans; West Palm Beach, Miami and Coconut Grove, Fla.; Orange Beach, Homewood and Mobile, Ala; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Ridgeland and Biloxi, Miss.
Matthew McClure, executive chef of The Hive in Bentonville, was a Best Chef: South semifinalist for six consecutive years, 2014-19. But no Arkansas chef has ever won the award. In Arkansas, only two James Beard winners have been in the American Classics category — Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna in 2012 and Little Rock’s Lassis Inn earlier this month.