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El Paso chef up for prestigious James Beard award for outstanding chef

EL PASO, Texas – Running a restaurant is a challenge. Running one with the pressures of a pandemic can be daunting. Despite the odds, one El Paso restaurant is reaching world-class acclaim.

Emiliano Marentes has been named as a semifinalist for a James Beard award in the category for outstanding chef. It's one of the most prestigious honors in the culinary world.

Marentes is among 19 semifinalists.

He opened his restaurant, Elemi, in downtown El Paso in 2019 on Kansas Street after some encouragement from his wife.

It's a decision that's paid off.

Marentes has been featured on the Hulu series "Taste The Nation."

"I teared up, honestly. It's something as a chef you dream about but you never think about. Especially someone in El Paso. We're not in Austin, LA, Chicago. We don't think that we're ever going to get that award, especially a small, independent restaurant," said Marentes.

The winner will be announced on March 16, with the award handed out at the James Beard Restaurant ceremony on June 13th in Chicago.

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Erik Elken

Erik Elken co-anchors ABC-7’s flagship newscasts.

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