The future of the Austin restaurant scene is in good hands. We kick off our Tastemaker Awards special editorial series with the nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year. We'll crown the winner at our big event on April 19, but first, get to know the nominees a little better.
Take and Kayo Asazu, Komé Sushi Kitchen
This husband-and-wife duo has perfected a contemporary take on family-style Japanese dining. The Asazus began their culinary ventures in 2006 with Deli Bento, launched the Sushi-A-Go-Go trailer in 2009, and then opened beloved Japanese restaurant Kome in 2011. They're also behind Daruma Ramen in downtown Austin.
David Baek and James Dumapit, Old Thousand
Co-chefs James Dumapit, an Uchi/Uchiko alum, and David Baek, formerly of Thai Kun and Uchi, debuted Old Thousand at the end of 2016. The east side hangout has quickly become a go-to for Chinese food and cocktails. Old Thousand is the first of four new projects from SMGB, a new restaurant group comprising talent from top spots like Hopdoddy Burger Bar and Hai Hospitality.
Thai Changthong, Thai-Khun
Thai Changthong likes it hot — and so do we. The Bangkok native teamed up with East Side King partners Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya to open Thai-Khun, which started as a food truck and evolved into a brick-and-mortar at Domain Northside last year. Changthong's resume includes Uchi and Uchiko, as well as the much-missed Spin Modern Thai.
Page Pressley, Emmer & Rye
As chef de cuisine at Emmer & Rye (a nominee for Restaurant of the Year), Page Pressley helps execute the Rainey Street restaurant's acclaimed lineup of grain-focused dishes and tasty dim sum. Previously, he worked at Hai Hospitality's St. Philip and Uchiko, as well as Starr Restaurants in Philadelphia.
Sterling Ridings, Guild
Sterling Ridings left his executive chef role at Uchiko earlier this year to join a new project from Chameleon Group. This week, Ridings was announced as the executive chef of Guild, a new seafood restaurant opening on North Lamar Boulevard this summer.
Jacob Weaver, Juliet Ristorante
At the helm of Juliet, the midcentury modern eatery on Barton Springs Road, is executive chef Jacob Weaver. With Juliet, Weaver, who previously worked at Hyde Park's Asti Trattoria, crafts elegant Italian dishes that are a mix of traditional and modern flavors.