A taste of Austin's top culinary stars: Meet the 2014 Tastemaker winners
We've spent the past month introducing you to all of the talented nominees of CultureMap's third annual Tastemaker Awards. These culinary and beverage professionals represent the best and brightest of our highly acclaimed — and constantly growing — local food scene.
This year, winners in six categories were chosen by a highly selective panel of culinary judges. Winners in the Best Restaurant, Best Chef, Best Pastry Chef, Best Beverage/Wine Program, Best Craft Bartender and Best Brewery categories were revealed Wednesday evening at Brazos Hall during our annual celebration. Now, it's time to meet the 2014 Tastemakers.
One of the city's most cutting-edge restaurants, Barley Swine has been tantalizing palates since it opened in late 2010. Helmed by chef/owner Bryce Gilmore, the atmosphere is casual and comfortable, serving as the perfect backdrop for Gilmore's creative dishes — dishes that guests might not consider trying otherwise.
Chef Bryce Gilmore is no stranger to Austin or the spotlight. The son of local chef Jack Gilmore, he hit the local scene with his famed Odd Duck trailer before opening the standout brick-and-mortar restaurant, Barley Swine. He works tirelessly with local farmers to find unique gems that transform into divine, head-turning dishes. In 2012, Gilmore was named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs.
Pastry Chef Jessica Maher cut her teeth at Jeffrey’s and then moved on to New York’s Jacques Torres Chocolate and Bouley, where she met husband Todd Duplechan. Since returning to Austin, Maher has kept busy at the award-winning restaurant Lenoir, which she and Duplechan opened in 2012. Her innovative plated desserts are the perfect complement to Lenoir's menu focused on hot weather food.
Paula Rester has a long history with Congress Restaurant, where she worked from its opening in December 2010 until January 2012. After a short stint at Vino Vino, Rester rejoined the Congress team as Sommelier in October 2012. She draws on her background in acting and her experience as a nightclub jazz singer to bring a spirit of performance and presentation to wine and food. She is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
Brian Dressel has an impressive local pedigree — you've probably spotted him behind the bar at such noteworthy establishments as East Side Showroom and Bar Congress. Currently, Dressel is the manager of downtown speakeasy Midnight Cowboy.
Austin favorite Hops & Grain is known for its award-winning, German-style Alt-eration and its pale ale The One They Call Zoe. The brewery's four year-round beers are available in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, but you can go straight to the source. Hops & Grain's East Austin tasting room is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 2 pm - 10 pm, and Saturday from 12 pm - 8 pm.
Best New Restaurant: No Va
The people's choice Best New Restaurant award was determined live at the Tastemaker event. Guests voted for their favorite of the final four contenders, and named Rainey Street establishment No Va the winner. Nestled in the heart of one of Austin's biggest entertainment districts, No Va serves up homespun versions of sophisticated fare.