This year, 16 future culinary stars from top Austin kitchens competed in a series of grueling cook-offs as part of the annual Citywide 86'd competition. On June 15, the local culinary scene crowned a winner: Joel Garza of St. Philip.
In the final round of the Chopped-style competition, Garza faced off against Oscar Yip of Olive and June, Kevin Cannon of Barley Swine and Claire Helbig of Eden East. The final four showed off their skills by incorporating surprise components into appetizer, entrée and dessert dishes.
"You have to accept that you can't put up exactly what you want to, but you can put up something you can be proud of," Garza told CultureMap before the showdown. "There is enough time to create a memory for the judges, and that's special."
Garza worked with such diverse — and difficult — ingredients as squab, micro shiso, geoduck, papalo oil, uni and madeira throughout the competition. Judges Jason Dady (Jason Dady Restaurants in San Antonio), Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue), John Tesar (Knife and Oak Restaurant in Dallas) and Andrew Wiseheart (Gardner and Contigo) carefully tasted the competitor's dishes and selected Garza as the 2015 winner.
In addition to taking home the crown, Garza received a collection of high-end utensils and an opportunity to stage for one week at Aster Restaurant in San Francisco.