Tag Archive | "Paul Qui"

Esquire Sings the Praises of Cured at the Pearl

Esquire’s Josh Ozersky gets it.

Cured chef Steven McHugh

Cured chef Steven McHugh

Last year, the magazine’s food writer heralded the Granary ‘Cue and Brew as the future of barbecue. This week, he named Cured as one of the best new restaurants in America.

“An ancient building, gutted out, and filled with all the products of a skilled chef’s imaginings; the place is named for its hams but it’s the whole hogs and other roasted meats that soar the highest,” he writes of the restaurant at 306 Pearl Parkway.

“It took me by surprise,” chef and owner Steven McHugh said of the writeup. “It’s great how many people saw it and are congratulating us.”

There’s been a lot of love for San Antonio’s dining scene in the national press, and not just from Esquire. In the past week, Food & Wine singled out three places in town for having some of the best dishes in the state of Texas. Earlier this year, Bon Appétit cited Hot Joy as the sixth best new restaurant in America, while Cured was among its top 50.

Ozersky’s love for Texas dining extends to his pick of Austin’s Paul Qui, owner of the eponymous Qui, as Chef of the Year.



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Griffin to Go: At SXSW, Forget Food Trends and Focus on Comfort

Rachael Ray talks with two young fans, including one girl who wants to be a chef.

Rachael Ray talks with two young fans, including one girl who wants to be a chef.

AUSTIN — In the past few years, food has emerged as an important element in the two-week celebration of South by Southwest.

Macklemore performs at Stubb's.

Macklemore performs at Stubb’s.

It may lack the weighty discussion that surrounds the computer and electronic portion of the festival or the cachet of the film festival, but it is almost as all-pervasive as the music. After all, what’s a party without food? And what’s food without music?

Whereas previous years showcased new culinary trends, this year’s offerings were far more willing to serve up comfort food, plain and often fairly simple.

Corzo Paloma

Corzo Paloma

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray, who throws two parties each year that are worth investigating, continued her big Saturday bash at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q on Red River, bringing together some musical fun with a generous mix of Tex-Mex and Texas favorites. So, while the crowd listened to chart-topper Macklemore with Ryan Lewis perform “Thrift Shop” and some Irish rap (in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, of course), many waited for more than an hour to load up on sliders, pulled pork tacos, corn soup with Mexican pesto and Mexican fried chicken.

Ray graced the stage, too, but only to introduce her husband, John Cusimano, and his band, The Cringe. The lively set included a wonderful surprise for the classic rock lovers in Stubb’s backyard: Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon joined the band on stage for a version of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” that had many singing along.

Coconut water at the VH-1 party.

Coconut water at the VH-1 party.

Among the many sponsors of the event was Corzo Tequila, which presented a potent cocktail called a Corzo Paloma. Fill a glass with ice, then pour tequila about halfway up. Add a splash of grapefruit juice to lend the drink an ethereal gleam of pink and finish off with Fresca. A couple of those would have you have you singing along with anyone on stage, no matter if you knew the lyrics or not. (I would make one slight change and go for Mexican Fresca for two reasons: The aftertaste is cleaner and, well, the aspartame in the American diet Fresca left me feeling as if something had delivered a swift punch to my kidneys.)

No cakeballs, just comforting cupcakes.

No cakeballs, just cupcakes.

After leaving Stubb’s, I wandered through the various parties that spread along River Road and Sixth Street, before ending up at a makeshift food truck park that popped up just for SXSW. On Sunday, the neat park, which played host to more than a dozen trucks, was to have been a vacant lot once again. But on Saturday afternoon, folks had started to gather for everything from Korean barbecue tacos to an outpost of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Salted Caramel continues to be a popular flavor — and was scooped up by both Jeni’s and folks from Lick at Rachael Ray’s other party.

Next to Jeni’s was the DUK Truck, Jason Dady’s wheeled kitchen, which had made the trek from San Antonio and found audiences receptive to its brisket chili Frito pie and to Rice Krispie Krack, a spin on the favorite treat in which the puffed rice is joined with salt and vinegar chips and Sugar Babies in a coating of marshmallow goo. Kiddy cuisine crack, indeed.

Sampling sausages at Banger's.

Sampling sausages at Banger’s.

“Top Chef” winner Paul Qui had a truck, too, with what is likely the next big trend: kimchi. He used the fermented cabbage on fries. It would pop up again at Ray’s house party and a day later in Floresville at the second annual Fine Swine Cook-off. My only problem with it being trendy is: What’s new about kimchi? We’ve been eating it for years and not just at Korean restaurants?

On my way to the Driskell to meet friends, I wandered into the Dorito’s sidewalk music venue, only to try Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which left my fingers red for several hours, and Cheddar BBQ Cracker Jack’d, neither of which begged to be tried again.

A brief respite in the Driskell’s air conditioned corridors left me ready for more music, more walking and more treats. We hit Rusty’s for Lucy Rose’s set, then headed off to Moonshine, where VH-1 was holding its annual party. Cupcakes were the only treat to be had there, but they were moist, thanks to a noticeable addition of cream into the vanilla cake and frosting. But there was plenty of coconut water from Vita Coco to keep you hydrated. Or you could have Ty Ku Coconut, a flavored sake, mixed with pineapple juice. This cocktail had little alcohol punch and could have made for a smooth slide to oblivion.

From there, we headed down to Banger’s on Rainey Street, where Ray was having her house party this year. By the time we got there, a mere hour after it opened, there was a lengthy line waiting to get in, as the spacious patio was already filled to capacity.

Rachael Ray listens to her husband's band perform.

Rachael Ray listens to her husband’s band perform.

Ray was there, of course, as she always is, and she walked about the beer garden, talking with her guests while Cusimano played another set. This time, he left the stage during one song and leaped up on one of the long communal tables to shrieks of surprise and laughter from the crowd.

The food for this get-together was Banger’s series of sausages, which is pure comfort food to many, though how many were expecting Kung Pao chicken sausage or Duck, Bacon and Fig sausage. There was even a vegetarian sausage made of beets and goat cheese, though I would recommend a bit of reworking here. The links we tasted were far too dry, as if not enough fat had been included. So, more cheese or olive oil or something to keep it moist.

Sure, there were plenty of toppings just made for sausage, from peppers and onions to kimchi and a series of spicy mustards. But it was also fun to see a trio of ketchups — curry, pepper and regular — to go on the sausages or the corn dogs that were passed around.

To finish the snack off, what could better than an ice cream float? Honest Fizz, a new line of stevia-sweetened sodas from Honest Tea, was poured over Lick’s handmade ice creams. So, root beer with caramel salt ice cream or orange soda with Hill Country honey and vanilla ice cream were just the right refresher to ease back into the night before the ride home.



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Paul Qui and SXSW New ‘South By South Bites’

By Emily Stringer

Food truck dining is the new fast food. It’s quick, delicious, and even our favorite “top chefs” have inspired some wheelie wonders. Such as, Austin based ‘Top Chef’ Season 9 winner, Paul Qui is known for his mark on Texas dining and winning ‘Top Chef Texas.’

He was executive chef at Uchiko and a food-culture standout — and is well known for his modernist approach to food and knowing no boundaries.

Paul Qui's outrageous Kimchi Fries.

Chi’lantro’s  outrageous Kimchi Fries.

Visiting Uchiko is reason enough to spring up to Austin for a day trip, however, why not have some South by Southwest music and a splash of Qui’s food truck, Eastside King’s?

Qui is the leading chef behind the newest food truck “cafeteria,” South by South Bites. He sprang the idea from a need — “You have to wait at restaurants for so long (to get in) during South by Southwest; I wanted to offer a food truck cafeteria,” said Qui.

And, with that, a combination of food tucks from all over Texas was born: Houston-based trucks, barbecue trucks like, Sugar Shack BBQ, and even a debut of Foreign Domestics’s food truck, and other Austin favorites such as: Qui’s Eastside Kings, Cazmance, and Chi’lantro, plus, the San Antonio-based food truck The DUK Truck, which flew up for a spring break.

The plan is for the truck park to spring into next year’s SXSW as well- so mark your calendars and even if you didn’t make it up to SXSW  — be sure to check out the food truck scene and report back to us.

Also, for more Austin-based flavors, chefs Jason Dady and Paul Qui will be featured at the Austin Food and Wine Festival, tickets are available here. The festival is April 26-28.

Paul Qui and Emily Stringer

Paul Qui, right, Austin chef, right, and freelancer Emily Stringer.






Emily Stringer is a San Antonio blogger and freelance writer. Contact her at

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Bruce Auden Nominated for Beard Award

Bruce Auden

The finalists for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards were announced Monday, and Bruce Auden is on the list of the best chefs in the Southwest.

The chef and owner of Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., faces fierce competition this year from Paul Qui of Austin’s Uchiko. Qui was the recent winner of “Top Chef,” which filmed its season in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.

Other nominees in the category include: Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Ariz.; Bruno Davaillon of the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas; Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja in Denver; and Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s in Houston.

No one else from San Antonio was on the finalists list.

Another name that might mean something to “Top Chef” fans was Edward Lee of Louisville, Ky.’s 610 Magnolia. Lee was nominated for best chef in the Southeast.


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