Top Chef Honors

Meet the Austin culinary stars in the running for Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef

Meet the Austin culinary stars competing for top Food & Wine honor

Andrew Wisehart_Contigo_Gardner_Austin chef_2014
Andrew Wiseheart, Contigo and Gardner. Contigo Austin/Facebook
Alexis Chong_Austin chef_2013
Alexis Chong, formerly of Sway. Sway/Facebook
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Allison Jenkins, laV. Courtesy of laV
Olamaie Grae Nonas
Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas. Olamaie. Photo by Robert J. Lerma
Andrew Wisehart_Contigo_Gardner_Austin chef_2014
Alexis Chong_Austin chef_2013
LaV restaurant__Allison Jenkins_executive chef_2015
Olamaie Grae Nonas

Some of Austin's hottest new chefs are vying for a top culinary title. Food & Wine magazine has announced the finalists for this year's People's Best New Chef, and four Austin restaurants are nominated in the Southwest region.

Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas of Olamaie (who were named on the magazine's Best New Chefs of 2015 list on Tuesday), are nominated alongside chefs from three other top Austin eateries. 

For the third year in a row, Chef Andrew Wiseheart has nabbed a nomination, this time for his work at Contigo and the relatively new Gardner. Food & Wine touts Wiseheart's ability to serve "thoughtful vegetable preparations at his new restaurant Gardner while turning out terrific rustic meat dishes like ox tongue sliders with pickled green tomato at the hunting lodge-inspired Contigo."

Also nominated is Allison Jenkins, executive chef of east side gem laV. "Even laid-back locals are flocking to the super-posh laV," says the magazine. "It's like haute comfort food." LaV's Vilma Mazaite was recently named Sommelier of the Year by the magazine.

Rounding out the Austin nominations is Chef Alexis Chong. The magazine highlights Chong's transformation from working at a Seattle retirement home to heading up Sway (a post she recently left). "Today she's setting Austin's taste buds on fire with her terrific Thai dishes, from chile-soy-glazed boar ribs to flash-fried whole branzino served with a cooling coconut cream."

The Southwest category is dominated by Texas chefs: Seven of the 10 nominees are from the Lone Star State. Houston's Adam Dorris of Pax Americana and Ryan Pera of Coltivare Pizza & Garden and Revival Market join Omar Flores of Casa Rubia in Dallas.

Voting is open from April 1-8 on the Food & Wine website. The chef with the most votes will be named The People's Best New Chef for 2015.

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