Want Excellent Food? Come To Texas.

Texas FlagWhen 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 2014Out 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 PylesJohn 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.

So I say to Matt McCallister of FT33 in DallasPaul Qui of Qui in Austin, and Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston: “Way to represent.” It is truly a good day for the Lone Star State.

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

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