Tag Archive | "James Beard Foundation"

Congratulations, Steve McHugh!

It’s been a good week for Steve McHugh of Cured at Pearl.

Cured chef Steve McHugh

Cured chef Steve McHugh

The chef won Sunday’s Paella Challenge. Then on Tuesday, he was named a finalist for this year’s James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the Southwest, an area that includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah in addition to Texas.

McHugh is up against several other Texans, including Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine in Austin as well as Hugo Ortega of Caracol and Justin Yu of Oxheart, both in Houston. The other finalist is Alex Seidel, Fruition of Denver.

McHugh is only the third chef from San Antonio to be a finalist for the award. Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks and Andrew Weissman for his former restaurant, Le Reve, have also been nominated.

There was another Texan on the list of nominees. Grae Nonas of Olamaie in Austin was a finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, an award given to “a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”

The other Rising Star nominees are Alex Bois, High Street on Market, Philadelphia; Angela Dimayuga, Mission Chinese Food, NYC; Matt Rudofker, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC; Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, NYC and Jenner Tomaska, Next, Chicago.

The awards will be presented in New York on May 2. Tickets are available at

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The Cookhouse Is Serving Up a Better Burger

I can safely say that most of us would vote yes when it comes to burgers.

The Cookhouse's Better Burger

The Cookhouse’s Better Burger

But Pieter Sypesteyn of the Cookhouse, 720 E. Mistletoe Ave., is offering something beyond your average burger.

During his lunch hours, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the chef is offering a Better Burger, as part of the James Beard Foundation’s efforts to come up with a “tastier, healthier, more sustainable burger,” he says. “This beauty is blended with 30 percent mushrooms to create a big umami bomb, and give you something healthier, to boot.”

Your job isn’t over when you bite into that beauty. The Cookhouse needs your vote. You need to post a photo of the burger to Instagram with the hashtag #betterburgerproject. Then tag the photo and write what’s better about it.

The winning chef will get invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York.

The Cookhouse is only one of two restaurants in Texas taking part in this project. The other is RC Grille at the Austin Marriott.

For more details, click here.


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Aaron Franklin Wants to Teach You How to Produce Excellent Barbecue

Every day there's a line Franklin Barbecue.

Every day there’s a line Franklin Barbecue.

Aaron Franklin has almost single-handedly raised Texas barbecue to a culinary art form in the eyes of the world’s food cognoscenti. His restaurant on Austin’s east side, Franklin Barbecue, has won over the international public as well, as lines of people from all corners of the globe stream every day from his door, down the driveway and around the corner hours before he opens.

franklinHe was rewarded for his efforts with a presidential visit and with this year’s James Beard Foundation Award for best chef of the Southwest. More importantly, he’s sold out of his meats every day he’s been in business.

Last year, he stole the movie “Chef” away from its star simply by opening the door to one of his smokers and revealing an array of obsidian briskets just waiting to be eaten. On the day I saw the film, moviegoers across the packed theater released an audible gasp at the sight of those briskets, followed by knowing chuckles and even a few grumbles from those who knew they couldn’t eat what they were watching.

Now, you can learn what it is that makes Franklin Barbecue so great, and you can recreate it in your own backyard, without having to stand in line for three hours. “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99), written by Franklin with Jordan Mackay, is essentially a 200-page recipe for making Central Texas-style barbecue.

Franklin invites you into his smoky kingdom with no topic off limits, no secrets held back, and he starts from the very beginning. No, you don’t have to raise your own cow, but you may have to build or modify your own smoker so that you can get it to work the way you need to. He even offers welding information, in case you need to get industrial. Yes, it’s that geeky.

Learn how Aaron Franklin seasons his post oak.

Learn how Aaron Franklin seasons his post oak.

On a practical level, this isn’t a book for Big Green Egg owners or even folks like me with an upright drum smoker, which I’ll admit I’ve used mainly for fish and turkeys, not beef or ribs. It’s not really even for those casual once-a-year barbecue parties in which the guys sit up all night with an ice chest of longnecks and a few briskets or racks of ribs for a party or family reunion, though that is how Franklin got his start.

This is for the serious smoker who wants to understand the thermodynamics involved in producing world-class barbecue. Franklin takes you through easy-to-read sections on how smoke works, how it must flow through the drum, how to distinguish good smoke from bad, how to choose which wood to use with which meat, how to season your wood, how to pick out a brisket, how to make a rub, when to leave that brisket alone in the smoker, and how to treat your brisket so it will continue to tenderize even after it has been smoked to what you might consider the perfect temperature.

It’s also for any die-hard barbecue lover, because Franklin shares his passion for the subject in an engaging, conversational voice that will leave you excited about your next three-meat plate, whether you plan on using the information on your own smoker or you just want to understand better what goes into making that meat so irresistible.

Part of the journey is learning from your mistakes, and Franklin admits to having made his own. These stories provide some welcome comic relief and show you a human side of the man behind the smoked meat.

You also glean a few insights into Franklin that might not have been readily apparent, such as the fact he considers his knowledge of barbecue far from complete. “I’m still learning,” he says more than once. And he means it. He doesn’t directly use the “low and slow” method many Texas pitmasters have used for years, but you’ll have to read in depth to find out just how it differs.

Two of the smokers at Franklin Barbecue,

Two of the smokers at Franklin Barbecue,

It was good to learn that his prime briskets (hence his prime prices) come from cows that have been ethically raised and butchered, yet he does not like grass-fed brisket for smoking. He does like to keep things around him practical, as he shows in this passage from the chapter on Fire + Smoke:

“It’s hardly glamorous, but the tool I probably use the most at the restaurant is not a carving knife or a boning knife or a fancy digital thermometer. This tool you’ll find most often in my hands when doing a cooking shift is a shovel. At all times, there’s one shovel propped outside the firebox of each of our six cookers. It’s an essential tool. I don’t like the heavy shovels that last forever; I like the light ones you can throw around real easy. That’s because, let’s face it, I’m using it nearly constantly, and the heavier the shovel, the hard it is on the old body.”

When Bonnie Walker and I were researching our barbecue book, one of the questions we heard repeatedly was whether the wait in line for Franklin Barbecue was worth it. Our answer was almost always the same; we asked them: Do you mind waiting for anything you love? To those who were too impatient, we said no. But to those who enjoy the experience that comes with that wait, including the camaraderie that develops among all of you sharing in that love of fine barbecue, you will certainly relish the memory, regardless of your final opinion of the meat by itself.

The same is true of “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto.” If all you want is a simple, one-page list of instructions on how to smoke meat, look elsewhere. If you’re at all interested in the workings of one barbecue-obsessed mind and how to apply that to your barbecue, then you’ll enjoy this ride.


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Hill Country Cookbook Author Earns a James Beard Nomination

Hill Country writer Terry Thompson-Anderson spent three years working on her latest cookbook, “Texas on the Table: People, Places and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State” (University of Texas Press, $45).

texas on the table1The hard work has paid off.

This week, Thompson-Anderson found out that she has been nominated for a James Beard Award in the category of American Cooking.

She is up against Sean Brock for “Heritage” and Erin Byers Murray and Jeremy Sewall for “The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes.”

Thompson-Anderson has written a number of Texas-themed and regional cookbooks including “Texas on the Plate,” “The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover’s Paradise,” and “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes,” the latter of which she co-authored with Frances Strange.

The photography for her latest book was provided by her sister, Sandy Wilson.

Terry Thompson-Anderson

Terry Thompson-Anderson

The winners will be announced April 24.

Other Texas names to make the list of finalists are four chefs from Austin and Houston competing for best chef of the Southwest. The whole list in that category includes:

  • Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s, Cave Creek, Arizona
  • Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin
  • Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin
  • Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston
  • Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe
  • Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

Thompson-Anderson will appear at the San Antonio Book Festival April 11. For more information, click here.

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Auden, Dady Among James Beard Award Semifinalists

Bruce Auden

Two San Antonio chefs, Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks and Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants, are among the semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Foundations Awards, which honor excellence in the food service industry.

The Esquire Tavern, 155 E. Commerce St., is also a semifinalist in the category of Outstanding Bar Program.

The finalists will be announced March 19, with the awards handed out on May 7.

Auden is a semifinalist in the category of Best Chef in the Southwest for Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St. He has been a finalist in the category several times in the past.

Paul Qui of Austin’s Uchi and “Top Chef” contender is also among the semifinalists, as is Maiya Keck of Maiya’s in Marfa, Bruno Davaillon of the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata in Houston, Anita Jaisinghani of Indika in Houston, Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s in Houston, and Teiichi Sakurai of Tei-An in Dallas.

Dady, meanwhile, in a semifinalist in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur, which covers all of his food ventures, including Bin 555, Tre Trattoria, Two Bros. BBQ Market and the DUK Truck as well as the recently closed Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills. Another Texan on the list is Nick Badovinus of Flavor Hook in Dallas.

Jason Dady

Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine in Austin and Grant Gordon of Tony’s in Houston are on the semifinalist list of Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Stephan Pyles of Stephan Pyles in Dallas and Sustenio in San Antonio is among the semifinalists for Outstanding Chef.

Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalists include two from Texas: Julieta V. Adauto of Orange Peel Pastries, Cakes & More of El Paso and Philip Speer of Uchi.

Another Texas semifinalist is Café on the Green at Four Seasons Resort in Irving for Outstanding Wine Program.

The foundation has also announced that Charlie Trotter of Chicago will receive its Humanitarian of the Year Award while Wolfgang Puck will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For the full list of semifinalists, click here.

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Best Chef in Southwest Asia Perhaps?

The James Beard Foundation handed out its annual awards earlier this week, and, no, a San Antonio chef was not named best in the Southwest.

Bruce Auden, chef/owner of Biga on the Banks and one of the chefs who helped popularize Southwestern cuisine, was nominated for the sixth time. But the award was actually split between Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin and Saipin Chutima from Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. (Perhaps the voters read the category wrong and voted for best chef of Southwest Asian cuisine?)

Cole wasn’t the only Texan to pick up an award. Robb Walsh of Houston shared an award with Rick Bragg and Francine Maroukian for best Food Culture and Travel piece. They co-authored “The Southerner’s Guide to Oysters” for Garden & Gun, a publication that describes itself as being “a Southern lifestyle magazine that’s all about the magic of the new South.”

In other Beard Award news, the cookbook of the year was “Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy” by Diana Kennedy, who is either the most loved or most reviled cookbook author to deal with Mexican food. (For some of the latter, read what Walsh has to say about her in his “The Tex-Mex Cookbook.”)

Publication of the year was Edible Communities, which produces Edible Austin among other regional magazines.

The Beard Awards are the culinary equivalent of the Oscars. For a full list of the winners, click here.

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Bruce Auden Earns Another James Beard Nomination

Bruce Auden

Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., is among the five finalists for best chef in the Southwest, according to the James Beard Foundation.

Auden has been nominated several times in the past for the award, which is the culinary field’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Auden is up against several Texas competitors, including Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston and Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin. Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas and Ryan Hardy of Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., are the other nominees.

Another Texan to make the list is Robb Walsh of Houston, who is nominated in the journalism division for Food Culture and Travel writing. He shares the nomination with Rick Bragg and Francine Maroukian for a piece in Garden & Sun titled “The Southerner’s Guide to Oysters.” They are up against Bill Addison for a piece in Atlanta Magazine on “BBQ 2010” and Matt Gross for an article in Saveur on “Tapei, Family Style.”

The journalism awards will be announced May 6. The restaurant awards will be announced May 9. For the full list of nominees, click here.

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Beard Overlooks San Antonio

The nominees for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards were announced Monday, and no one from San Antonio was among the nominees. It was the first time in years that one of the city’s best chefs had not made the list.

The nominees for best chef in the Southwest included only one Texan, first-time nominee Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston. Other nominees included Ryan Hardy of Montagna at Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., as well as Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel and Rick Moonen of RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, all of Las Vegas.

There was a name with a local connection on the list. Culinary Institute of America president Tim Ryan, who has visited the San Antonio campus on numerous occasions, was nominated for the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America award. He is in charge of the schools three campuses, including Hyde Park, N.Y., and Greystone, Calif., in addition to San Antonio.

SavorSA has written about several of the cookbooks that have been nominated. The list includes:

For a full list of the nominees, click here. Winners will be announced May 2.

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