Tis the season for the "best of" lists to begin appearing. Scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed, open your favorite magazine or log on to your favorite website, and you're bound to find a list chronicling the best of the season. (And yes, we're guilty of it, too.)
But overwhelmingly, one Austin restaurant appears again and again on these lists: Qui.
Paul Qui's highly anticipated flagship restaurant is barely six months old (they celebrated their anniversary last week), but that hasn't stopped everyone from Zagat to Zimmern from lauding the East Austin restaurant. But what exactly is getting attention at Qui? The answer is, well, just about everything.
But what exactly is getting attention at Qui? The answer is, well, just about everything.
The New York Times fawned over (and, at least in our humble opinion, rightfully so) the restaurant's Marcona almond gazpacho. Robert Draper writes, "Now and then a dish announces its brilliance at the very point of contact. The moment the spoonful of my friend’s Marcona almond gazpacho hit my tongue, I knew she had a winner."
Those publications that couldn't pick a single dish chose instead to celebrate the entire restaurant. Zagat placed Qui first in its annual list of the 25 most important restaurants (as did Thrillist and Austin Monthly).
But perhaps the most important accolade came in People. Andrew Zimmern, who mapped out the top 10 food trends for year, selected Filipino food as his second choice while applauding Qui for steering the trend. "Just as the Southern food revival can be tethered to chef Sean Brock’s early legacy at Husk restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, the Filipino foods movement will one day be traceable to Paul Qui serving dinuguan (pork blood stew) at his restaurant Qui in Austin, Texas," says Zimmern.
But it's not just the James Beard Award-winning Qui who is receiving all the accolades. Qui chef Jorge Hernandez was featured in Time magazine's "The Gods of Food" issue. Keith Kreeger, the local ceramicist who crafted the beautiful pieces Qui uses to serve, has had his work featured in everything from Food and Wine to Martha Stewart. Master sommelier June Rodil is considered a titan in her industry and is frequently featured in industry books dedicated to wine.
Even the Japanese-farmhouse-inspired design that houses the restaurant has proven buzzworthy. A Parallel Architecture, the firm behind Qui's design, was lauded by Zagat for creating one of the most stylish restaurants in town. And, of course, we can't forget Deana Saukam. Qui's marketing/ public relations/ social media/ events coordinator powerhouse has been celebrated for her style, humor and her sheer tenacity in publications like Tribeza, Texas Monthly and Esquire (they called her hilarious).
We don't doubt that in 2014 and the years to follow, Qui the chef (and Qui the restaurant) will continue to rack up accolades for an inventive style, humble attitude and progressive approach to food.