A Texan’s Named Top Chef in the Southwest With Inventive Vegetarian Food

Justin Yu, chef at Oxheart in Houston, earned the title of Best Chef Southwest at the restaurant industry’s annual James Beard Awards.

By Leah ScarpelliMay 3, 2016 11:36 am

The red carpet rolled out last night for something we Texans love to talk about: food!

Indeed, Texas was rather well-represented in the James Beard Foundation awards, which honor top chefs, sommeliers and restauranteurs.

Hillary Dixler, senior editor for Eater, covered the awards. She says Eater had slated Texan Justin Yu to win the title of Best Chef Southwest.

“Our data actually suggested that his odds of winning were 9 to 1,” she says. “He’s had a lot of national press attention.”

Yu, of Houston’s Oxheart, was nominated alongside three other Texans in the category of Best Chef Southwest, which also includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah.

“It’s a lot for those other states to compete with, when Texas has three major dining centers in Houston, Dallas and Austin,” Dixler says. “I think Texas’s chances are always good in that category.”

Launderette, an East Austin eatery, was a finalist for Best New Restaurant, in part because of the place’s vibe. “Something that will immediately jump to your mind with Launderette is just how beautiful it is – it’s got bright blue floors, it’s in a refurbished laundromat, it’s just really cool,” she says.

Dixler says the awards are named after James Beard, who’s considered the dean of American cookery. She says the wins are in some ways symbolic, but they can affect a chef’s longevity.

“These awards can have an impact on your career and on the health and vitality of your restaurant,” she says.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above. Web post prepared by Hannah McBride.