Not bad at all: Texas captured four of seventeen finalist slots in Food & Wine’s new “People’s Best New Pastry Chef” competition.” That’s really impressive, considering that the Texans are up against chefs from Chicago and New Orleans, among other cities (we are in Central, one of three competition areas). So go vote for somebody from here, y’all. We can’t let our folks down. But now, while I’ve got your attention, let me say that I’m completely baffled that there are no finalists from Dallas, San Antonio, or Fort Worth, and that three of Texas’s four are from Austin and only one from Houston, a much, much larger city. If that seems crazy to you, I strongly suggest you contact the Food & Wine folks. The more they hear from readers about the geographical imbalance of the competition the more likely they are to take steps to fix the next one–that’s my opinion, anyway, for what it’s worth. That said, do vote for a Texan. The contendahs are as follows: Steven Cak, Parkside, Austin, who is well-known for his classy s’mores (pictured) with cinnamon marshmallow, dark chocolate ganache, cinnamon foam, and white chocolate cream. Vanarin Kuch, Tiny Boxwood’s, Houston, famous for Anjou pear tart tatin with crystalized ginger caramel on puff pastry with a crispy apple chip. Josh Matlock, Paggi House, Austin, known for deconstructed goat’s milk cheesecake with fresh blueberries, graham cracker crumbs, and snickerdoodle. Laura Sawicki, La Condesa, Austin, famous for her crema cocida, consisting of vanilla-bean panna cotta with watermelon, agave, queso fresco, pickled watermelon rind, and roasted pepitas.
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