As if we needed another reason to celebrate Austin's explosive — and dynamic — culinary scene, Food & Wine Magazine has nominated three Austin chefs for The People's Best New Chef for 2014.
For anyone following Qui since it opened last summer, Paul Qui's nomination should come as no surprise. The East Austin restaurant is consistently one of the most lauded spots in town, garnering national attention and cementing Qui's position as a young chef to watch in America.
Also nominated is Andrew Wiseheart, executive chef at Contigo. Loved by locals, Contigo hasn't registered on a national level the way restaurants like Qui, Congress or Jeffrey's have. With his ranch-inspired fare, Wiseheart has turned seemingly casual dining into a can't-miss culinary experience.
Rounding out the top three is Mat Clouser of Swift's Attic, the downtown restaurant that bills itself as "modern American small plates." Clouser's farm-to-table menu features such dishes as Lockhart quail, Warm Niman Ranch pork cheeks and Peeler Farm’s fried chicken meatball tsukune. Lest you think Clouser has crafted a meat-only menu, Food & Wine is quick to point out what the chef does best, saying "[Clouser]'s bringing light, imaginative (and spot-on) small plates like charred edamame with chile oil and pop rocks to Austin's meat-centric restaurant scene."
Readers are able to vote for the best new chef starting today, March 24 through March 31 on the F&W website. One finalist will be selected from each region; the chef with the most votes will be named the People's Best New Chef.
Chefs in Dallas and Houston also received nods. In the Big D, Omar Flores of the celebrated Driftwood and Casa Rubia, Matt McCallister of FT33 and Brian Zenner of Belly & Trumpet are also nominated. In Houston Justin Yu of Oxheart and Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner of The Pass & Provisions are also in contention.