Two Borderland chefs have been recognized for their outstanding skills in the kitchen. The James Beard Award is considered one of the nation's most prestigious honors for someone in the food industry. The James Beard Awards search nationwide to recognize the best chefs, bakers, restaurateurs, restaurants, and others in the food industry who are truly making their mark. Back in January, the Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists were announced. Out of all the fantastic people across the nation in the food industry, two talented Borderland chefs have been recognized for their exceptional skills in the kitchen. 

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Enrique Lozano was nominated for the Best Chef in Texas award from the James Beard Foundation. Lozano is the head chef and owner of El Charlatan, located in Socorro, Texas. Lozano's love for cooking began as a young boy, and his cooking journey took him from the Borderland to Michel-rated Chicago-based restaurant Next, before he came back to bring his talents to his hometown. Lozano opened his ramen restaurant Nishi in Downtown El Paso, known for using the finest Asian ingredients in every dish. After Nishi closed in 2019, he began dreaming of a Taqueria y Ramen-Ya concept that would become El Charlatan. El Charlatan opened on the historic Mission Trail in Soccoro and has quickly become a local favorite. 

The second nominee for the Best Chef in Texas award from the James Beard Foundation was Emiliano Marentes. Marentes is Elemi's head chef and co-owner, located in Downtown El Paso. This is the second time Marentes has been nominated for this award. Marentes began working in tortillerias around El Paso as a teenager, which inspired him to pursue his passion and become a chef. Elemi opened its doors in 2019, a modern Mexican restaurant inspired by ancestral culinary traditions that can taste with every bite. Finalists for the James Beard awards will be announced on Wednesday, March 29th, 2023. 

KLAQ spoke with both chefs to find out what dish they recommend a newbie walking into their restaurants absolutely has to try. 

El Charlatan’s Enrique Lozano recommends people try the Bourdain or the pastor tacos. The Bourdain has noodles, pork belly, marutomaki, and a soft-boiled egg marinated in a tonkotsu broth topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and toasted nori. The pastor tacos have pork belly marinated in a pastor glaze with micro greens, and topped with pineapple red salsa in a warm tortilla. 

Elemi’s Emiliano Marentes knows people come in to try their famous tacos and tortillas, but he recommends people start with the botanas, aka the starters! They have delicious Brusselas, which are brussels sprouts with salsa macha, balsamic-agave, and goat cheese crema. The pepinas are organic cucumbers, with sal de hormigas, chicatanas, lime, chile de arbol oil, and roasted sesame seeds. You can see all their starter options on their website

El Charlatan is located at 10180 Socorro Road. You can learn more about El Charlatan at the restaurant's website, Instagram, and place your order online

Elemi is located at 313 North Kansas Street. You can learn more about Elemi at the restaurant's website, Instagram, or by calling (915) 532-2090. 

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