Food & Wine's The People's Best New Chef: Southwest
February 15th, 2011
02:30 AM ET
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If there's one thing our friends at Food & Wine do even better than throwing fabulous festivals all around the country, developing stellar recipes and generally making our lives more appetizing - it's identifying up and coming talent from around the country.

Since 1988, the editors of Food & Wine have feasted their way from coast to coast, seeking out 10 innovative chefs, each with a distinctive vision, creating exceptionally delicious food. They've bestowed upon these shining stars the title of Best New Chef. This year, the dining public has a say.

In each of the ten designated regions of the country, you - yes, YOU - may vote for the chef whose restaurant has most significantly stirred your soul and your palate. The winner of the The People's Best New Chef 2011 will be the subject of a profile in the July issue of Food & Wine and will no doubt hold you in tremendous gratitude and esteem until the end of time.

We and the editors of Food & Wine would greatly prefer that you only vote for chefs whose restaurants you've actually visited, so the "chef" part of The People's Best New Chef 2011 really holds true. See more details at and let the clicking commence!

Midwest | Pacific | Southwest | Northwest | New England
Southeast | New York Area | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Gulf Coast

Chris Curtiss
Scott Ference

Chris Curtiss
Noca - Phoenix, AZ

Why he's amazing: In a strip mall in Phoenix, he’s doing exceptional dishes to reclaim and elevate global cuisine.

Max MacKissock
Patrick Andrade

Max MacKissock
The Squeaky Bean - Denver, CO

Humor on the menu: Dishes and cocktails reference kitschy TV trivia and pop culture - the cured-meats platter is named for "Green Acres" swine hero Arnold Ziffel.

Andrew Curren
Vanessa Escobedo Barba

Andrew Curren
24 Diner - Austin, TX

How he describes his food: “Elevated comfort food” - the menu features classics like meatloaf dressed up with bacon-braised greens and sweet-onion gravy.

Bryce Gilmore
Chuck H.W.

Bryce Gilmore
Odd Duck Farm to Trailer, Barley Swine - Austin, TX

Unusual digs: Gilmore built the orange-and-white trailer that houses his kitchen, which includes a wood-burning grill room and all the trappings of a small restaurant kitchen. Diners enjoy his offerings at metal tables on an outdoor graveled dining area.

James Holmes
John Davidson

James Holmes
Olivia - Austin, TX

Must-try dish: Lamb’s tongue fricassee with apricot mostarda.

Jesse Griffiths
Jody Horton

Jesse Griffiths
Dai Due Supper Club - Austin, TX

Where you can find him: Dai Due has no brick-and-mortar home: It pops up periodically at farms, hotels and other venues in and around Austin. Griffiths and his wife, Tamara Mayfield, also operate the Dai Due Butcher Shop every Saturday at the Austin Farmers Market.

Tim Byres
David McGhee

Tim Byres
Smoke - Dallas, TX

What smells so good: Byres smokes or cures almost all his dishes over wood, using either the mesquite-fueled wood grill and barbecue pit in the kitchen or a vintage Appalachian cold smoker out back, which uses hickory, pecan wood and charcoal.

Casey Thompson
Courtesy of Brownstone

Casey Thompson
Brownstone - Fort Worth, TX

Best known for: Being a finalist on "Top Chef" Season 3 and "Top Chef All-Stars" Season 8.

Bowman Brown and Viet Pham
Viet Pham

Bowman Brown and Viet Pham
Forage - Salt Lake City, UT

"Best New Chef" pedigree: During culinary school, Brown worked at The Dunaway Restaurant with "Best New Chef 2006" Mary Dumont. Pham worked for "Best New Chef 2002" Laurent Gras at San Francisco’s Fifth Floor.

Michael Richey
Ramin Rahimian

Michael Richey
Pago - Salt Lake City, UT

Education: Self-taught: He didn't go to culinary school.

Midwest | Pacific | Southwest | Northwest | New England
Southeast | New York Area | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Gulf Coast

Voting starts on 2/15/11 and ends 3/1/11 at One vote per computer per region. Votes from any automated means or intended to disrupt the voting process (in American Express Publishing Corporation’s sole discretion) will be void. Chefs with the highest eligible votes per region will become finalists (10 total). The People's Best New Chef title will be determined based on highest number of eligible votes received during the voting period. All votes subject to verification.

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Best New Chef 2011 • Content Partner • Food and Wine

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. backlink

    Enjoyed learning this, very good things, thankyou . "Management is nothing more than motivating other people." by Lee Iacocca. backlink

    April 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  2. Scott Nechay

    Over the last few years, I have been traveling to Florida for work from Jackson Hole, WY. and always made it a point to have a lay-over in DFW to stop in at Brownstone for a meal and have never once been dissappointed! My only regret is that I have yet to meet Casey personally. If she is as pleasant as her food...I'm sure I will love her!!

    March 1, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Liz Vandewalle

      NO WAY!!!! Scott Nechay??! Scott Nechay who used to work with me at Reams?!? what a small, small world!!! Next time you're in DFW for a Brownstone layover, you'd better hit me up cuz we're gonna EAT!! :) :) :)

      April 2, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  3. Jesse

    Max MacKissock at the Squeaky Bean is an amazing chef, who does it all without a real oven or grill or cook top. He has a couple of panini presses, a couple of burners and two convection ovens. His food is original and consistently SPECTACULAR. I can honestly say that 3 of my 5 best meals have been at the Squeaky Bean with Max at the helm. I would vote for him 100 times if I could.

    February 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Foodie Fan

    Sort of strange that Forage seems to get all their votes between midnight and 3am. Salt Lake City must be quite the party town.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Also a foodie fan!

      Like they say, "Salt Lake City isn't what it use to be." SLC people sure do know how to party and it's nice that people are actually agknowledging that.

      February 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Food Lover

    Forage's food is divine! When the plate is presented to you it is a work of art, and the tastes are amazing. The way they are able to enhance the flavors of their food should almost be criminal. Forage has my vote!

    February 25, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  6. SLCfoodie

    Forage won best new restaurant in Utah in its first year, and best restaurant in its second year... what does that tell you? Go Forage!!!!

    February 25, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Gastronomist

      The 2 chefs at forage are also nominated as a semifinalists for a James Beard!

      February 25, 2011 at 3:05 am |
      • SLCrepresent

        James Beard huh? Well that's saying something. Just looked up the other Chefs/restaurants up for James Beard awards, didn't see any of the other chefs above.

        February 26, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  7. Saywhat?

    Is anyone else curious about the thread count of Tim Byres Sheets? His bomb grub and blue eyes have my vote.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • SayWhatAgain!

      Oh Claire ;)

      February 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  8. jwilly

    Go, Casey! One of the reasons I try to find an excuse to get to Fort Worth as often as possible! Good luck!

    February 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  9. Liz Vandewalle

    I voted for Casey but feel pseudo-guilty about it since I haven't tasted all of the other chefs' cooking. I rarely do this in a competition, but I believe so strongly in the kind of food that Casey prepares, not only because it tastes delicious, but largely because of WHERE she insists it comes from and HOW it was raised/ grown. As long as she sticks to these core principals, I'll support her in every way I can. I love that she supports local farmers and those who grow, raise, and prepare REAL food as opposed to those who obtain their "food" from factory farms who use nasty chemicals, pesticides, inhumane and filthy living conditions for the animals, hormones, antibiotics, etc. I really wish more chefs demanded true, pure food for their's a shame to me that this has even become an issue.
    Keep up the great work, Casey!!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  10. Stan Sizemore

    I have had BBQ all over and I am sorry, but Tim Byres is NOT a BBQ chef...Smoke is about as inconsistent a restaurant as I have ever seen from service to food. I cannot, in good faith, not comment on how truly mediocre Smoke and it's food truly are...

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  11. TheOne

    I am sure Tim Byres is a fantastic chef, but he works for Chris Zielke, former cult member of The Family or The Children of God.

    Ultimately Tim is garnering attention for the restaurant which is partially owned by another cult member as well. They are so intertwined with current and former members that there is no longer a black or white area regarding allegiance or affiliation.

    So I have to vote for someone else even though Tim probably deserves to win.

    February 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • kate

      I'm not sure why you have an issue with Mr. Zielke, but your comment is both inappropriate and pathetic and has no place in what should be a celebration of ten wonderful chefs in the Southwest.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
      • TheOne

        You are quite correct in that this is a celebration of 10 excellent chefs, but as a result the restaurants gain business. I have already stated that Tim deserves to win, and he should, I simply can't vote for him based on the owner for which he works.

        Thank you for the opinion on my post. I read it, took it under advisement, and have decided it wasn't worth merit.

        February 23, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Julia Childs

      TheOne sounds like s/he has brains made out of number 2.

      We cannot control the evil tongues of others; but a good life enables us to disregard them.

      February 23, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • someonewhoknows


      You are a disgrace.Your post is chock full of half truths and misinformation.

      What does an owners childhood have to do with the chef?
      Who else that works at Smoke has any affiliation with any cult?
      Who is the other owner that is a "cult member"?

      Faulting someone for their being raised in a cult is like saying that Elie Wiesel did not deserve a Nobel Prize because he was a holocaust survivor. I know Chris 9and his past) and think it is remarkable that he was able to not only survive his past but accomplish so much with so little. He is as honorable, hard working and deserving (if not more so) as any I know. If you don't believe it, go meet him.

      Either way, this is about the chef. So vote for the food, skip the bulls**t.

      February 23, 2011 at 12:30 am |
      • TheOne

        I couldn't agree more; vote for the food. I just can't because I know the family behind the restaurant.

        Next time you speak to Chris, ask him how Johnny is doing.

        February 23, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  12. Apollo

    SMOKE does the Heritage and Farm to Table movement proud. Great ingredients, inventive preparation and whimsical takes on traditional comfort food....Tim Byres attacks the polarizing world of BBQ with vigor and fearlessness. Simply put, this is an important Chef making fantastic grub.

    February 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  13. Monica

    Good luck TIM

    February 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  14. kate

    Not only does Tim and the Smoke gang do an awesome dinner, but their brunch is spectacular and his cocktails (including a handmade bloody mary mix) are incredible.

    February 21, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  15. Tanya Chatterton

    Chef Michael at Pago's / I would like to say thankyou for fresh new tastes we needed you in Salt Lake City.

    February 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • marilyn

      Totally agree, Tanya. Mike's an amazing chef, creating wonderful menu items such as chicken paillard. Go, Mike!

      February 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Mac

      Having watched Chef Mike Richey of Pago evolve from a line cook to a cutting edge artist of food and wine for the past 15 years, and I can say with confidence he is the best. Mike came up through the ranks of what I consider the best culinary school on the planet; "THE REAL WORLD". He has successfully gleaned technique as well as passion from some of the food industry's greatest minds coast to coast; not a text book. Every time we dine @ Pago it is a new adventure in food and wine. Way to go Mike!! Nice to have you back in Utah.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  16. Benji

    So being a star in two different seasons of "Top Chef" gives me the impression Casey is not actually a "new" chef. What is the criteria here?

    February 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Jocelyn

      I agree. Casey should not be considered a "new" chef. If you look at other nominees from other regions, there are more Top Chef contestants who are nominated. I would like to see a chef who has had little or no media exposure win the title of "Best New Chef."

      February 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  17. monte

    Tim Byres food gets better everytime I eat there.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  18. shirlee gandy

    Casey Is an amazing chef and her restaurant is a welcome addition to the Fort Worth restaurant scene!!
    Shirlee J

    February 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  19. gary mayfield

    Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Clubs, Austin, Tx, is the best chef ever. Everything he does is from scratch. It is seasonal, local and mostly organic. He can do everything, from shooting the hog (or other wild animal), to breaking it down, cooking it and eating it.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  20. pc

    It doesn't seem fair that one restaurant has 2 chefs in the running. Is it a coincidence that their voting percentage is double most of the others?

    February 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Cate

      Forage is truly a combo effort for these 2. I understand the gripe but their chemistry and the way their food plays off of each other is why they are doing so well in the polls, not to mention the overwhelming support from often under-represented SLC now with 2 teams in the running. Congrats long-deserved Salt Lake! Other regions also have duos presented.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
      • Dien.N

        Good luck Viet! We're rooting for you down under!

        February 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  21. Lucia

    Great list, but why is there only one woman and NINE men?! Come on, Food & Wine. There are amazing female chefs who deserve recognition also.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Doc

      I agree with the frustrating fact that there is only one woman in the SW category but what I find even more frustrating is that there is only one person of color. Come on.

      February 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
      • Liz Vandewalle

        I really hope you're joking, Doc. It never seems to end. Last I checked this post was supposed to be about FOOD, not quotas that should be met to keep things "equal."
        Shouldn't you be off voting for hope and change somewhere other than here? ha! sorry, couldn't resist.

        February 24, 2011 at 12:24 am |
      • LoveFoodSLC

        So happy that Forage's chefs, Viet Pham and Bowman Brown are included this year. Their food is ah-may-zing. Viet and Bowman are so innovative and creative in their creations. Well deserved nomination! They have my vote for sure.

        February 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  22. John

    Lots of Austin here, deservedly so, but Olivia is hands down the best restaurant to hit Austin in years and created the frm to table movement there.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  23. Annie

    SMOKE is the BEST!! Awesome for Tim Byres.. He is doing amazing things over there.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • robert

      Super food!!

      February 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • BAD

      I have eaten at Smoke three times and it has NEVER been good. The meals are consistantly horrible, salmon smothered in BBQ sauce?!?. I kept trying because I live in the area, like the ambiance and really WANT to like it. Simply put – BAD food. I know many many people that have had the same experience. I finally learned my lesson and now only order appitizers, the cheese plate is good, I guess because nobody ruins it with cooking. Hattie's, Tillman's and Bolsa great choices in the area.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  24. bonita

    in today's world we all need "comfort food" - at its BEST.
    Drew is the Best!

    February 16, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  25. Jesse

    I am sure Casey is a great chef...but isn't two spots on top chef enough publicity? How about giving some other chefs the spot light?

    February 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Keith Moon

      There's a reason she made it on the show twice and it's not just because she's hotness, although that did factor into my decision.

      February 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  26. fob

    Now, I love Casey from Top Chef, but there isn't there anything else we need to know about her?

    February 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  27. hammertimez

    the worst ribs i've ever had in my life were from Smoke two months didn't help that they were also the most expensive.

    February 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • can'tgetfooledagain

      where have you been eating previously...mcDonalds? get some taste and then comment again

      February 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  28. John Malone

    I'm surprised there was no mention of Houston, Texas; several restaurants/chefs were featured in Best Of lists in other publications last year. This list seems typically Austin-centric, as have many other lists the last several years (usually justified) but recently Houston's scene has been exploding.

    I would have expected to see perhaps Roberto Castre's modern/casual take on South American at "Latin Bites Cafe", Jamie Zelko's fun neighborhood hangout "Zelko Bistro", Seth Siegel-Gardner's tremendous "Just August" pop-up restaurant or at "Kata Robata" (regarded by some as the best restaurant in city limits), or (my personal choice) Randy Rucker's "Bootsie's Heritage Cafe" and his 3rd Coast Menu, filled with foraged, hyper-local goodies (and only $35).

    I've eaten at a few of the places on Food & Wine's list and they're no better (or worse) than what Houston is offering. It's enough to give the impression they look a little harder in some cities than others.

    February 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  29. jai carney

    I can't believe you could not find one chef in New Mexico who was worthy of mention. I know a pile so bad on you F&W.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • eddy stephenson

      Agreed. There are a handful in Santa Fe doing good stuff but I've been most impressed by the chef at Curious Kumquat in southern New Mexico. A Top Chef styled chef working with foraged foods and a modernized Apache menu.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  30. Julia Yomine

    Revitalization in the area, funky and WOW!

    February 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
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