No knock on Tim Byres of Smoke restaurant, in Dallas. He’s great. He certainly is a worthy “people’s choice” for Best New Chef in the Southwest, which is a recent nationwide online competition dreamed up by Food & Wine magazine. (The winner was announced today.) But here’s my problem: The Southwest portion of the contest overall is ridiculous. It has no validity. I mean, it is supposed to represent the entire Southwest region of the U.S. but there were NO chefs from Houston in the running. NONE from San Antonio. ONE from Dallas (Byres). BUT, get this, there were FOUR from Austin. (And I’m not even talking about the other states in the region. They can do their own grousing.) Please. I love Austin, but there is no way there are four chefs from my little home town who deserve consideration and none from Houston. What about Randy Evans of Haven? What about David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern? What about Patricia Wenckus of Auden’s Kitchen (it’s in San Antonio)? Doug Brown of Dish (in Dallas)? Yes, yes, I realize this is the “people” speaking. Food & Wine didn’t control the nominations. But I think due diligence should be paid to getting reasonable coverage of all major cities in the running. Otherwise, the results are meaningless. That said, do try Smoke. The contest may be lame, but Tim rocks. See the other F&W nominees here.