Announcement highlights Columbus’ travel-worthy food scene

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Not one, but two Columbus chefs have just been named to The James Beard Foundation’s list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists. The diversity of the Columbus chefs named in the Foundation’s prestigious announcement underscores the breadth of the city’s food scene, which has long received high praise from both travelers and locals alike.

Celebrated for the elegant classic pastries created at his German Village shop, Spencer Budros of Pistacia Vera was named to the Foundation’s Outstanding Baker semifinalists, which recognizes a pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries or breads served in a retail bakery. These nominees must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.

A semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes, James Ray Anderson has garnered national publicity from the country’s most respected food writers for the barbecue he and his colleagues at Ray Ray's Hog Pit smoke and serve out of a few food trucks. The Best Chef Award recognizes chefs who set high culinary standards and demonstrate integrity and admirable leadership skills in their respective regions. A nominee may be from any kind of dining establishment but, must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region.

“The diversity that’s blossomed in Columbus in recent years widens the way we eat and cook,” said Anderson. “Add the availability of locally raised, high-quality protein from small farmers, and the fact that local chefs are sourcing from these farmers, and diners benefit from it all. I love how passionate Columbus is about barbecue. Columbus has these amazing neighborhoods, with residents who are intensely loyal to we creative types. That support – and that of visitors to our city -- is a great reward for small, creative food businesses who pour our life and soul into our trade,” Anderson said.

Ohio’s capital has been getting major attention lately for its rich culinary offerings, from mind-blowingly good Palestinian meat pies and Tibetan momos, to an endless list of incredible restaurants and one North America’s most prolific beer and spirits scenes.

“Whether they are discovering that the country’s best barbecue is churned out of a food truck in Columbus, or sampling spectacular classic French pastry, Columbus visitors are always blown away by the quality and diversity of the food in our city,” said Experience Columbus President & CEO Brian Ross.  “We are so proud of our two semifinalists and are excited to see the James Beard Awards shine a bright light on these really special chefs. We invite anyone who hasn’t been to Columbus to come and see what all the buzz is about.”

Ross added that the city has long been a champion of the James Beard Foundation, including hosting JBF fundraising dinners led by Chef Bill Glover at Hilton Columbus Downtown and a Columbus Chefs Dinner at the James Beard House.

Embodying the Foundation’s Good Food for Good™ mantra, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of America’s most coveted and comprehensive honors for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors and other leaders in the food and beverage industry. The James Beard Foundation announces the final nominees for all Award categories during a live press conference March 25. The Foundation holds an online open call for entries beginning in October. Entries are then reviewed by the Restaurant and Chef Committee. The Committee produces a nominating ballot to be voted on by more than 600 judges from across the country, including top regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard Award winners.  Votes are tabulated by independent auditors and results are kept confidential until the presentation of winners in May. The James Beard Awards support sustainability, gender equality, inclusion, equity and access for all. As the preeminent benchmark for culinary excellence, the Awards will continue to support the James Beard Foundation’s mission to make America's food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone: celebrating the past while championing the future.


Columbus is a city unlike any other. Vibrant and alive, Ohio’s capital is known for its open attitude, smart style and entrepreneurial spirit. Columbus' blend of neighborhoods, dynamic nightlife, noteworthy music scene, arts and culinary experiences, events, attractions and accommodations are all made unforgettable by the diversity of its outgoing locals who warmly welcome visitors. Free travel guides, maps, online booking and detailed information are available at or 866.397.2657 (866.EXP.COLS). Visitor information is also available on Facebook:, Twitter: @ExpCols and Instagram: @experiencecolumbus.