If Paul Qui were the type to get a swelled head, he would be getting one right about now. The young executive chef of Uchiko, in Austin, won the Best Chef: Southwest title at the James Beard Awards ceremony in New York’s Lincoln Center Monday night. This comes on the heels of his winning Bravo TV’s Top Chef: Texas on February 29.
Qui follows in the footsteps of his mentor (and founder of both Uchiko and its parent restaurant,Uchi, both in Austin) Tyson Cole, who was the Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southwest in 2011. Qui thanked his staff at Uchiko and Uchi as well as East Side King, his food trailer, and his girlfriend Deana Saukam.
Other national highlights of the prestigious Beard Awards were Outstanding Chef, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York; Outstanding Restaurant, Boulevard in San Francisco; Rising Star Chef, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City; and Best New Restaurant, Next in Chicago.
Qui beat out three other Texas chefs for the Southwest title (Bruno Davaillon of the Mansion Restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks in San Antonio, and Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s in Houston) as well Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona, and Jennifer Jasinski or Rioja in Denver.
The Uchi juggernaut continues in other ways: the restaurant opened a location in Houston recently.