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Dionicio Jimenez, the Mexican chef and restaurateur has been named a nominee of the 2023 James Beard Award. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Dionicio Jimenez, the Mexican chef and restaurateur has been named a nominee of the 2023 James Beard Award. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Chef Dionicio Jimenez, owner of Cantina La Martina, gets first James Beard Award nomination

The Mexican-born restaurateur is one of 5 chefs to earn a nod for the 2023 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.

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The James Beard Award Foundation has just announced the 2023 Restaurant and Chef Award nominees for the upcoming award ceremony later this year.

Philadelphia and Latinidad are both well-represented in this year’s nominees, including a first-ever nod for Dionicio Jimenez of Cantina La Martina. 

He is one of this year’s nominees for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jimenez is a Mexican-born chef with more than 25 years of experience within the culinary industry. 

He began working in restaurants at the age of 14 in his native Puebla, Mexico. Over the years, he worked his way up from dishwasher to line cook, prep cook, and later chef.

In 1998, he began a new journey in the United States with the dream of becoming a U.S. citizen and continuing to improve his culinary skills. 

Throughout his journey, Jimenez worked at some of the top restaurants in the city, including as executive chef at El Rey before starting his latest venture. 

In February 2022, Jimenez officially went out on his own as a solo restaurateur, and opened the doors to Cantina La Martina, fulfilling his long-time dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

The cuisine-style restaurant features a robust menu filled with authentic home-made Mexican food and beverages that reveal the diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine. 

Just over a year after the start of his entrepreneurial journey as a restaurant owner, Jimenez is already being recognized with his first-ever James Beard Award nomination.

In the Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region category, Jimenez is joined by fellow Philadelphians Jesse Ito of Royal Sushi, and Chatatip ‘Nok’ Suntaranon of Kalaya. Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski of Apteka in Pittsburgh, and Michael Rafidi of Albi in Washington, D.C. round out the category. 

Philadelphia is also in the running for the Outstanding Restaurant Award, as corner eatery Friday Saturday Sunday has been nominated, as well. 

Ellen Yin, the Philadelphia-based restauranteur behind Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street, and other establishments, has been named a finalist for the Outstanding Restaurant Award. 

Meanwhile, Amanda Shulman, owner of Her Place Supper Place, is a finalist for the Emerging Chef Award. 

Jimenez isn't the only source of Latino representation among this year's James Beard award nominations.

Other Latino chefs and restaurants nominated include Peruvian-American chef Erik Ramirez of Llama Inn in Brooklyn, New York (Outstanding Chef); the Latina-owned La Casita Bakery in Richardson, Texas (Outstanding Bakeshop);  Mexican-born chefs Gilberto Cetina Jr. of Holbox and Carlos Salgado of Taco María (Best Chef in California); among others.

The full list of this year's honorees can be found here

The 2023 James Beard Awards ceremony is set to be held on Monday, June 5, 2023, in Chicago.

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