BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Northwest Arkansas chef has been named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the South.

Chef Rafael Rios operates Yeyo’s El Alma de Mexico in Bentonville, which began as a family business and still operates as one today.

In addition to the primary restaurant, Yeyo’s has two food trucks and a Mezcaleria & Taqueria in Rogers. All of it began with their family farm in Little Flock, Ark.

“Yeyo’s Mezcaleria & Taqueria is the first of its kind in the State of Arkansas,” their website says. “The small but rich in culture Mezcaleria will be an art destination for both local residents and out of state travelers.”

The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards are one of five separate recognition programs for the Awards. The 2023 Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists are recognized across 23 categories, including the new Award for Outstanding Bakery.

Rios was named alongside chefs for 19 other restaurants hoping to be named the Best Chef in the South. He is the only one from Arkansas.

Final nominees will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Click here to view the full list of finalists.