Austin’s top chefs have been leading a local food movement that has been putting the world on notice – as the live music capital of the world has transformed into a culinary darling. This month we take a look at what dishes Austin’s semi-finalists of the prestigious James Beard Award – David Bull, Bryce Gilmore, Philip Speer – are creating this summer at their acclaimed restaurants.
When Bryce Gilmore returned to Texas from attending culinary school and gaining work experience in California, his first project was a farm-to-trailer concept named Odd Duck.
Odd Duck maintains a focus on products sourced from local farmers and ranchers.
The trailer, which he renovated with help from his brother, was instantly popular. He closed it to focus on a brick and mortar concept, which opened as Barley Swine in December of 2010. The tiny nose-to-tail gastropub was also an immediate success, with hopeful diners lining up for seats at the community tables. Gilmore was named “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine in 2011, and then went on to win accolades from Details, Texas Monthly, Star Chefs, Wine Enthusiast, and GQ over the next several years. He was a James Beard Rising Star Chef semi-finalist in both 2012 and 2013 before becoming a finalist for Best Chef Southwest in 2013.
His latest and most anticipated venture, the brick and mortar version of Odd Duck, opened this past December on South Lamar. Much like its trailer predecessor, Odd Duck maintains a focus on products sourced from local farmers and ranchers. While the menu is always changing, diners can expect hyper-fresh and seasonal plates, many prepared on a wood-fired grill or oven. Selections range from homespun dishes with comfort food roots, like the staple pig head Parker house rolls or the fried quail cheddar biscuit, to more globally-influenced fare, such as the large format orange chicken with steam buns, cucumbers, and chilies. Their recently added brunch is already drawing crowds for its dreamy pastries (bear claws, kolaches, croissants dripping with runny yolks) and indulgent creations like goat confit tater tot hash and bacon oatmeal with banana, peanut, and fatty duck liver.
blackberries / almonds / plum gaze
zucchini bread / buttermilk peach ice cream / mint / fresh peaches
okra stew / hush puppies / soft egg / spicy mayo
andouille sausage / coffee mayo / sorghum syrup / fried egg
When David Bull served as executive chef at the Driskill Hotel’s restaurant, it won the Austin-American Statesman’s “Number One Restaurant” award three years in a row and was recognized as one of the top restaurants in the country by USA Today. He went on to be named “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine in 2003, competed on Iron Chef America in 2006, and was nominated for a James Beard Award – specifically, “Best New Chef Southwest” – in 2007.
Chef Bull’s summer menu selections range from the fresh, to the rich, to the bold.
That same year, he became a chef partner at La Corsha Hospitality Group, overseeing culinary operations for the renowned Congress and its more casual gastropub cousin, Second Bar & Kitchen. Chef Bull’s refined, technique-driven dishes are typically available through tasting menu options, but this summer are being served a la carte as well. Selections range from the fresh (seared hamachi, sesame, cucumber, carrot dashi, salmon roe) to the rich (brown butter poached lobster, paddlefish caviar, parsnip mousse, baguette) to the bold (uni tagliatelle, calabrese peppers, seabeans, bacon, dandelion greens) to more traditional (prime ribeye, King Trumpet mushroom, espresso, pomme puree, smoked caramel).
Next on Bull’s agenda is Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, set to open late this year in the former Seaholm Power Plant. The space will feature multiple floors and countless methods of grilling and smoking, using both domestic and international techniques.
Asparagus + Potato Salad
gulf bottarga / buttermilk / salsa verde
Sungold Tomato Salad
whipped ricotta / almond / garden jus
seabeans / calabrese peppers / bitter greens / bacon
Veal Breast Ravioli
porcini / parmesan / basil puree / pistachio
chanterelle mushroom / espresso / pomme puree / smoked caramel
Molten Mole Cake
coconut sorbet / coriander meringue / guava / peanut / sesame sable
raspberry gelee / bavarian cream / raspberry sorbet / almond strusel
Philip Speer began as a pastry chef at Uchi in 2005 and, as the restaurant group grew to include Uchiko, he grew with them, becoming the Executive Pastry Chef and leading a pastry team at both restaurants.
Speer has become known for his unique and cutting edge pastry creations
When Uchi Houston opened, he hired and trained the entire staff, stepping up to become the Culinary Director for the entire Uchi and Uchiko restaurant group, which is now spreading to Dallas as well. In addition to James Beard semifinalist nominations in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, he was also named StarChefs’ Rising Pastry Chef in 2012, and has received recognition and won numerous awards through the years from Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times, CNN, Houston Chronicle, CultureMap Austin, and more.
Speer has become known for his unique and cutting edge pastry creations, made using innovative techniques and unexpected ingredients. Some of his classic works of art on the Uchiko menu include sweet corn sorbet (with polenta custard, caramel salt, and lemon) and tobacco cream (with chocolate sorbet, maple budino, huckleberry, and scotch). But it’s not all gastromolecular magic– right now, Speer is immersed in his latest project, St. Philip (incidentally, the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs). This restaurant, which will focus on baked goods, pizza, and sandwiches, is set to open in Sunset Valley early this fall.
Malted Milk Gelato
aerated chocolate mousse / chocolate meringue / chocolate ganache / lemon gel / basil meringue
sake snow / cucumber / crispy lemon curd / ginger gel / lemon cells
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