Crawfish are boiled at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Crawfish are boiled at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Rose Baca/Staff Photographer

Mark Vamos, a special contributor to The Dallas Morning News, has been named a finalist in the 2019 awards competition for the Association of Food Journalists, also known as AFJ.

Vamos, the William J. O'Neil Chair of Business Journalism at Southern Methodist University, wrote about a style of food known as Viet-Cajun.

"Most of these restaurants are Vietnamese-owned and run, and they serve a style of food that's come to be known as Viet-Cajun," Vamos wrote in the piece published last May. "The cooking is a far cry from what you'll find in Louisiana or in Dallas' traditional crawfish joints, places like Dodie's or Razzoo's or Nate's or Aw Shucks. But there's usually nothing even vaguely Vietnamese or Asian about it. Viet-Cajun is, instead, a pure invention."

Anissa Collins-Fortune (top) eats shrimp in a booth with her friend Tamieka Stringer at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Anissa Collins-Fortune (top) eats shrimp in a booth with her friend Tamieka Stringer at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Rose Baca/Staff Photographer

Vamos is one of three finalists in the Best Newspaper Food Feature category, sharing the division with Brett Anderson of The New York Times ("Tokyo in Texas: Distinctive Japanese Food is Thriving in Austin") and Chris Malloy, Phoenix New Times, ("A Journey to the Heart of New Arizonan Cuisine").

One other Dallas writer making the rank of finalist is Eve Hill-Agnus of D magazine. She's competing in the category of Best Restaurant Criticism. 

Vamos' piece carried the headline, "Viet-Cajun restaurants boil up as D-FW's hottest melting pot trend" and began thusly: 

"Drive around the suburbs of Dallas where Asian businesses cluster — places like Carrollton, Richardson and, especially, Walnut Street in Garland — and you will spot them: restaurants with names like the Boiling Crab, Kickin' Crab, Crab Station, Boiling King Crab and so on. And then there are the Shell Shacks, the Tasty Tails, and so on."

Viet-Cajun restaurants boil up as D-FW’s hottest melting pot trend 

And there, he writes, "hangs a tale — one about war, migration, assimilation, appropriation and imitation. A story, in other words, about food."

Vamos is among 45 finalists in the 2019 competition, which "recognize excellence" in 15 categories. This year, AFJ received 373 entries, the largest in contest history. Started in 1986, AFJ's awards competition is the nation's longest-running contest for food journalists.

Launched in 1986, the AFJ awards competition is the nation's longest-running contest for food journalists.

Winners will be announced at the AFJ Awards reception on Thursday, Sept. 19 at euphoria, the Greenville, S.C.-based four-day food, wine and music festival. First-place winners will receive a $300 cash prize.

Juan G., a cook, stirs crawfish in the boiler at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Juan G., a cook, stirs crawfish in the boiler at The Boiling Crab in Dallas on Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

Rose Baca/Staff Photographer
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