Texas Monthly has long covered the most contentious issues in our beloved state, as in our most recent cover story. At the same time, we enjoy writing about topics that bring Texans together, such as our bounty of distinctive delicacies: barbecue, Mexican food, Viet-Cajun crawfish, and birria wontons, to name just a few. This month, we’re pleased to publish our report on the state’s best new taco purveyors, penned by José R. Ralat, our full-time taco editor.

José is a winner of the prestigious James Beard award for food writing, as is our fine-dining critic, executive editor Patricia Sharpe, whose latest review, of a new French restaurant in San Antonio, can be found here. Pat joined the magazine just a few years after its founding a half century ago (when she must have been about eight years old). Pat and José are joined by Daniel Vaughn, our full-time barbecue editor, whose expertise in smoked meats has won him myriad accolades and invitations to events around the country and as far afield as Sweden and Spain.

We know from your letters and emails and social posts that Texas
subscribers love learning about the state’s burgeoning food and drink scene, and to feed that appetite, we keep expanding our coverage. It now includes more than a dozen articles a month in print and on our website, a new cookbook, live events such as our annual Barbecue Fest (now expanded to two days, on November 5 and 6, in Lockhart), and food-oriented videos produced by our colleagues at Texas Country Reporter (which will offer plenty of tasty vittles at its annual festival on October 29, in Waxahachie).

Deftly coordinating these efforts, in the manner of top chefs directing a busy kitchen, are executive editor Courtney Bond and associate editor Kimya Kavehkar. Courtney oversees all things food and drink, with a primary focus on our print products. Born in Austin, she started at Texas Monthly right out of college, working first in the accounting department and then as an editor and writer. She took charge of our food coverage last year, just in time to begin crafting our first hardcover guide to the state’s cuisines, The Big Texas Cookbook, which will be published by Harper Wave on November 8. With help from Pat, Courtney also oversees a score of expert part-time restaurant reviewers in every corner of the state who contribute to the Dining Guide.

One of Courtney’s favorite dishes to cook at home is carnitas—the pork simmered in water and just-squeezed orange juice, then fried in brandy and its own fat until shredded and crispy—served, of course, with a fresh-lime margarita. As for restaurants, she observes that “coming out of COVID, there are so many excellent new places opening across the state that I can’t keep track—and it’s my job!”

Kimya joined Texas Monthly in January and supervises our online dining coverage, which includes frequent stories on barbecue and tacos from Daniel and José. She previously worked as managing editor of Texas Highways and says she enjoys “the fast pace of digital journalism after some years of working mainly in print.” 

She was born in Nassau Bay, just southeast of Houston near the NASA facility. Her father, a Texas A&M graduate, worked as an aerospace engineer. He and Kimya’s mother, a physical therapist, migrated to the U.S. from Iran. By age ten, Kimya says, “I knew I wanted to be a journalist.” When her mom would take her to Toys R Us, she would make a beeline for the book department. 

Kimya says she enjoys editing stories about food because “it touches all the senses.” Ask any Texan about his or her most vivid memories from childhood, she notes, “and one of the first will usually be about a meal—about that combination of smell and taste and texture and love that’s imprinted on us from the earliest days.”

I hope you enjoy the big helping of stories that Kimya and Courtney and Pat and José have cooked up in this issue of Texas Monthly and that you’ll check out the team’s work on our website, in our new cookbook, and at our festivals.  

This article originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Top Chefs.” Subscribe today.