Meet the Tastemakers
These 6 Austin chefs are the rising stars of the restaurant scene
UPDATE: The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, originally scheduled for April 16, will now be held on July 23. The story has been updated with the new date.
Each year, we celebrate the best of Austin food and drink with the annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards. And one of our favorite categories spotlights the rising stars of local kitchens — the next big names who will be making an impact on the culinary scene for years to come.
This crop of Rising Star Chef of the Year nominees reflects the creativity, talent, and diversity that is synonymous with Austin.
Get to know them below, visit their restaurants, and then join us on July 23 at Brazos Hall, when we toast the Tastemakers and unveil this year's winners. Early Bird discounted tickets are still available.
Jo Chan, Eberly
A graduate of San Diego Culinary Institute, Jo Chan spent her formative cooking years in New York City, first at Nobu Fifty Seven, then at Barbuto and Upland. She also worked abroad at Marcus Samuelsson's Kitchen & Table concepts in Scandinavia before arriving in Austin. As executive chef of Eberly, Chan's diverse culinary background shines — she oversees a vast menu with items ranging from a hearty bison tartare to a delicate squash raviolo.
Jakub Czyszczon, Garrison
Jakub Czyszczon, sous chef at Garrison, worked his way through top kitchens in Chicago and Hawaii before landing at the Fairmont Austin's signature restaurant in 2019. Here, he assists in executing the award-winning restaurant's Texas-focused, six-course tasting menu. Czyszczon is no stranger to awards himself, having won silver and bronze medals at Ment’or Young Chef competitions in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Mike Diaz, Oseyo
A native of El Paso, Mike Diaz is a longtime veteran of the Austin restaurant scene who served on the opening teams of such standout restaurants as Olamaie, Bufalina Due, and Dai Due Taqueria. As executive chef of Oseyo, he dishes up modern Korean fare that's rooted in home cooking traditions, with a focus on Korean specialties and banchan, small sides like kimchi and sprouts that complement and elevate the dining experience.
Alexa Mejia, Barley Swine
Alexa Mejia has risen through the ranks at one of Austin's most acclaimed restaurants. After graduating from culinary school in San Francisco, she moved to Austin with her sights set on joining the team of Bryce Gilmore's Barley Swine.Hired on as a line cook, Mejia was promoted to sous chef, and then became executive sous chef in summer 2019. In this role, she crafts dishes that meld the flavors of Texas and the surrounding region, like a whole smoked Texas quail, stuffed with spicy dirty rice and served with collard greens, house pickles, and dill pickle hot sauce.
Janie Ramirez, Dai Due
Janie Ramirez has similarly climbed the ranks at another of Austin's most important establishments. The Louisiana native, who moved to Austin to attend culinary school, originally joined Dai Due in a prep position. Just two months later, she was promoted to sous chef; now, Ramirez is executive chef of the butcher shop and supper club. Her culinary passions include mayonnaise, spicy food, and shellfish.
Edgar Ulysses Rico, Nixta Taqueria
Nixta jumped onto the Austin scene last fall with much fanfare. Behind the vibrant East Austin taqueria — also nominated for CultureMap Tastemaker Restaurant of the Year — is chef Edgar Ulysses Rico, whose resume includes stints at Los Angeles hot spots Sun of a Gun, Sqirl, and Trois Mec. The "imaginative creations" at Nixta are equal parts fun and traditional.