I remember the first James Beard Award nomination Justin received in 2014. I remember how honored we felt to be included in a list of very talented people. I remember how surreal it felt to be walking into the Lincoln Center with the Met Gala less than 2 miles away. I remember having to find a pair of pants, jacket, tie, and pocket square hours before the awards began. I remember thinking, what if I run into Beyoncé?
Three nominations later, Justin was awarded Best Chef: Southwest. While I know nothing about how you get nominated, who votes, and how you actually win, I know how much this award meant to Justin. It is a decade-long dream that he has talked about when I first found out he loved cooking. It is a dream that became a possibility when we opened Oxheart. It is a dream that although I sometimes could not grasp, kept me pushing when I felt like we ran out of steam. Sometimes I feel like a fraud since I don’t follow closely what is going on in the world of food, but Justin has always managed to keep me in the loop so I could understand how momentous last night was for him.
To see his dream come to fruition has led me down 24 hours of varying emotions. When I’ve finally sorted through them all, read my text messages, watched my staff celebrate, have some coffee, and re-lived some moments that have gotten us here, I am extremely grateful for everyone who has been a part of this journey. Sure we took a risk, but so did each of our guests the first time they sat down for a meal at Oxheart. I still don’t know how to properly congratulate him, but I hope he knows somewhere in my heart there is a spot cataloged for this very moment. The question is, “Now what?”