When it comes to best chefs and award-winning restaurants, most think Texas has little to offer. Tell that to Paul, Matt, and Justin — who were just named 3 of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2014. Out of only 10! Yes, they are all from Texas — Austin, Dallas, and Houston to be exact. Food & Wine Magazine named the top 10 a few days ago, with Dana Cowin, Executive Editor, saying: “It’s a big day for Texas.” It certainly is Dana, and we appreciate the recognition.
When I ended up in Dallas more than 2 decades ago, I didn’t think I’d stay. It’s too big. Too much concrete. Too much hair. Too much makeup. And an abundance (and ridiculous appreciation) of less-than-fabulous, quite mediocre chain restaurants. About 10 years ago, however, I started to see a change. More independent restaurants, farmer’s markets, and specialty food shops were thriving in my concrete metropolis. I knew the names of local chefs, like Stephan Pyles, John Tesar, and Kent Rathbun. Paul Quinn College in South Dallas converted its football field into an organic urban farm. And today I have more than one choice of community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about farming and real food. And I’ve become really proud of my home state where I’ve seen a serious focus on seasonal, local, farm-to-table eating. Austin has had a strong real food presence for awhile, growing up in the shadow of its happening music scene. Dallas is still too big and concrete-filled, but our dining scene has grown and matured. And Houston (which I’m ashamed to say I’ve long called the armpit of Texas despite the fact that I was born there) is making its mark on the food world. An armpit no more.
Here is the complete list of Food & Wine‘s 2014 best new chefs:
- Paul Qui, Qui, Austin
- Matt McCallister, FT33, Dallas
- Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston
- Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick, ME
- Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, Ox, Portland, OR
- Matthew Accarrino, SPQR, San Francisco
- Eli Kulp, Fork, Philadelphia
- Ari Taymor, Alma, Los Angeles
- Dave Beran, Next, Chicago
- Walker Stern and Joe Ogrodnek, Dover, Brooklyn
When I travel, I enjoy seeking out the best places to eat, so these will go on my list. How about you?
Image Credit: Texas Flag via Shutterstock