25 February, 2022, 06:01

Tucson chefs Don Guerra, John Martinez & Maria Mazon are 2022 James Beard Award semifinalists

Tucson is no stranger to award-winning chefs and restaurants, and now there’s a possibility it’ll keep on growing very soon.

On Wednesday, February 23, the James Beard Foundation announced their 2022 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists — three Tucson chefs made the list.

Don Guerra, John Martinez, Maria Mazon Photos by Jackie Tran

This year, the three nominees to root for are:

  • John Martinez, Tito & 鼓舞士气的, up for Best Chef: Southwest
    Maria Mazon, BOCA Tacos y Tequila, up for Best Chef: Southwest
    Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, up for Outstanding Baker

For years, it’s been an exciting time in the culinary scene, but now the city has something new to brag about — three consecutive years now that a Tucsonan was nominated. The Awards kicked off in 1991 and are considered to be the highest honors for a chef, restaurant, baker, or bar to receive in the U.S.

Don Guerra of Barrio Bread

Barrio Bread's Don Guerra in his home bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran) Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra in his home bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

This is the third nomination for Don Guerra of Barrio Bread and grabbing a loaf or even a slice of his creations is a must if you’re a local.

Also, be sure to check out his most recent venture, Barrio Charroa collaboration with chef Carlotta Flores of Si Charro Restaurants.

John Martinez of Tito & 鼓舞士气的

Tito & 鼓舞士气的 owner-chef John Martinez (Credit: Jackie Tran) Tito & 鼓舞士气的 owner-chef John Martinez (Credit: Jackie Tran)

John Martinez opened up Tito & 鼓舞士气的 back in 2018 and within less than a month it grew into one of the most beloved restaurants in Tucson. Stop on by and help him celebrate his very first nomination.

Martinez shared the following about the nomination on Facebook:

“Honored and excited to be nominated along with some amazing Tucson chefs.”

Maria Mazon of BOCA Tacos y Tequila

BOCA Tacos' Maria Mazon at Tucson Foodie pop-up dinner (Photo by Adam Lehrman) BOCA Tacos’ Maria Mazon at Tucson Foodie pop-up dinner (Photo by Adam Lehrman)

This is Maria Mazon’s second nomination for Best Chef, Southwest and as of late, it’s been a wild ride for the chef. From being a contestant on Top Chef, to partnering with Estrella Jalisco, and then opening a tortilla and gift shop, this nomination is another accomplishment to add to her list.

Mazon shared the following on Facebook:

“I’m so proud and honored…. but this year, Tucson is rocking. Congratulations to Don Guerra and John Martinez, and ME.”

Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees will be revealed on Wednesday, March 16 in Scottsdale, and the winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13 in Chicago, Illinois.

For more information on this year’s nominations, visit jamesbeard.org

At a very young age, Matt was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards.