Top 10 chefs in Fort Worth make dining out a delicious indulgence
We've reached the pinnacle of the 2022 edition of the annual Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap's culinary celebration shining a light on the top talent in Fort Worth's restaurant and bar communities.
The celebration includes an editorial series in which we profile nominees in categories such as Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, and Best Breakfast. Check out our page with all the nominees, all of which have been voted on by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
Who will win? Find out at the Tastemaker Awards party on May 10 at 4 Eleven, at 411 S. Main St., emceed by comedian CJ Starr, where attendees get to dine on bites from nominated restaurants and find out who the winners are in all the categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
Here are the 10 nominees for 2022 Chef of the Year:
Lanny Lancarte, Fantasma Kitchens
Beloved Fort Worth chef has always skillfully rolled with whatever's going on and in 2021, that meant ghost kitchens: The chef unveiled a new venture called Fantasma Kitchens featuring three of the hottest cuisines: Mexican, Italian, and fried chicken. This is in addition to his trailblazing healthy restaurant, Righteous Foods.
Amanda Yunger, Bearded Lady
Yunger is as skilled in front of the house as the back, equally adept at mixing a drink as manning a stove, with dishes such as garlic butter lobster mac & cheese stuffed between toasted sourdough bread and served with garlic butter dipping sauce, and a spinach burger topped with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, goat cheese, and a house made lemon garlic aioli sauce.
Jenna Kinard, Jellico's
Kinard developed her passion for cooking at an early age while re-creating Czech family recipes passed down from her grandmother. She's dabbled in acting and modeling but her big culinary break came while working for a catering company serving meals to rock 'n rollers on the road. She's since worked with concepts such as Hotel Drover, Max's Wine Dive, and Westin Dallas Southlake.
Jenny Castor, Luckybee Kitchen
With a BA from TCU in Education and Art, Castor also graduated with honors in both the Savory and Pastry Arts from The Culinary School of Fort Worth, where she went on to become a Chef Instructor. Her seasonal cooking and eclectic menus have earned her recognition, not only as a boutique food truck owner and caterer, but also as a chef with a passion for flavor, beautiful presentation and obsession for detail.
Rodney Lambert, Smokestack 1948
Lambert attended Tarleton State University and was a former real estate agent who started out doing BBQ as hobby. But his barbecue was good enough and popular enough that he took the plunge and opened Smokestack 1948, where he and his team are rolling out amazing chicken, ribs, brisket, and mac & cheese.
Katrina Carpenter, Carpenter's Cafe
Carpenter opened her cafe in 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the city. She comes from a history of cooks and a tradition grounded in family conversations around quality, savory, food.
Mary Perez, Enchiladas Olé
Perez started out in the nonprofit world before launching a company selling her bottled red enchilada sauce. That led to a food truck which led to this phenomenally popular restaurant specializing in enchiladas, her favorite Mexican dish. Her goal was to provide the best enchilada sauces and make some amazing meals, and she has succeeded, even been featured on the Food Network.
Nico Sanchez, Del Toro BBQ
Chef Nico earned his reputation within the Dallas restaurant scene by working at Cuba Libre, The Porch, Hibiscus, and Meso Maya. His food is celebrated for its complexity, unique presentation, and fresh flavors (thanks, in part, to his love of gardening—he grows peppers, tomatoes, squash, and onions).
Fabian Alvarado, Fred's Texas Cafe
Chef Fabian is no stranger to the FW dining scene. Prior to joining Fred's, he began cooking on the chuckwagon in 2015 with Quincy Wallace and he has previously cooked at LaPerla, Bearded Lady, LeCep. He began at Fred's on the catering side and was promoted to chef in late 2021.
Christian Lehrmann, Courtside Kitchen
A graduate of The Art Institutes, Lehrmann worked for nearly a decade for Raised Palate Restaurants, the Dallas restaurant group that included Hibiscus, The Porch, Victor Tangos, Thirteen Pies, and American Food and Beverage. On the side, he's also a partner in NLD Hospitality with Sarah Castillo (Taco Heads, Tinie's Mexican Cuisine, Side Saddle Saloon).