La Factoría once again finds itself as a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Awards 2020 alongside JungleBird’s Chef Paxx Caraballo of Jungle Bao Bao who is nominated under the category of “Best Chef: South” in the U.S.’s most prestigious culinary awards for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors and other leaders in the food and beverage industry.
"We are extremely proud that our projects are being recognized for the second consecutive year by James Beard," said Leslie Cofresí from Colectivo Ícaro, who founded La Factoría seven years ago together with Roberto Berdecia and Pablo Rodríguez.
For his part, Chef Paxx expressed that he was taken by surprise by the large number of Puerto Rican businesses that are part of this first list of semi finalists. “ I feel a great pride in seeing so much Puerto Rican representation on the list. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up in the morning and the happiness is immense,” he said. “This is something we’ve been able to achieve thanks to our entire team. We are the first queer cuisine to accomplish this in Puerto Rico and it feels incredible,” added Jungle Bao Bao’s chef, a kitchen that operates within JungleBird, in Santurce.
The final list of nominees will be revealed on March 25, 2020 through the James Beard Foundation’s digital platforms (JBF), with the awards ceremony taking place on Monday, May 4th. The mission of the JBF is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other industry leaders that make the food culture of the United States more delicious, diverse and sustainable for all.
Uplifting the local gastronomic industry
For Cofresí, one of the founders of Colectivo Ícaro, being part of this selection is a source of great pride, especially for the boost this gives to local businesses. “The amount of nominations that the Island continues to obtain year after year is incredible, considering how difficult it is to operate a restaurant within the current economic context of the Island and the lack of government support to serve gastronomy as one of the main tourist attractions and economic vehicles here,” he added.
The businessman added that this type of recognition inspires him to continue contributing to the cocktail and gastronomy industry in Puerto Rico. “Our projects arise as collaborations to create opportunities for chefs and professionals. They are not investor projects with large amounts of money. On the contrary, they are projects that are born from solidarity and an unwavering commitment to serve the best products while creating a platform to make Boricua talent visible to the world,” he concluded.
In addition to La Factoría and Chef Paxx, the list includes Cocina Al Fondo in the category of “Best New Restaurant,” 1919 for “Exceptional Hospitality,” and Chefs José Enrique of José Enrique and Natalia Lucía Vallejo from Cocina al Fondo accompany Chef Paxx within the category of “Best Chef of the South.”