Commenter Sarah got a mite heated on the comment section of a couple Top Chef Texas articles we wrote defending Magical Elves selection of Austin over Texas cities like Houston, Lubbock and Fort Worth.
We had prefaced our opinions by stating a love for Houston but this gal showed up ready for a brass knuckles brawl a la Thunderbolt Patterson or a young Bob Roop. In response to our laundry list of national chef awards that Austin cooks have brought home recently she had this to say: “A few chefs winning awards, does not a great food city make.
Don’t most cities have at least a few great chefs?
To even think that overall, Austin’s restaurant/foodie scene is above Houston’s, is extremely naive. There’s a reason Houston makes the top 10 restaurant cities lists (which is a rating of the best overall scenes, not just fancy places.) Austin does not.
These are two totally different tiers of cities we’re talking about here.
Top Chef skipped Houston because:
1. Houston didn’t pay
2. Houston is the least stereotypical Texas of the major Texas cities. It’s too international and cosmopolitan for a show in which Bravo obviously wanted to play up Texas stereotypes and symbolism.”
Sarah, we agree with you that a few chefs winning awards does not a great food city make. But, Austin is a great food city now. While historically we have played the knock kneed little sister to towns like Houston we’re done with that role.
Our bona fides are fully in order as compared to Houston or any other Texas city. If you find that difficult to believe come on over to Austin for a week, do some research and you will eat like a queen. No, we do not have the sheer volume of restaurants that Houston has, nor should we, we’re tiny in comparison, but we’ll stack our best up with the Rocket City any day. You’ll be able to experience the majesty of Uchi for example, pretty soon as Tyson Cole is setting up shop in y’alls town. And if you want world class barbecue then you know where to go; John Mueller is back in town and he’s housing every other joint in town. And he’s doing it from a trailer on a dirt lot in South Austin.
“Austin too refused to pay money to Magical Elves but the city is such a boisterous presence on the national food scene that Top Chef elected to come anyway.” [ed note: Sarah is quoting us there].
“Not exactly. But, if you makes you feel better, keep thinking that. Gotta love that Austintude!
To even think that overall, Austin’s restaurant/foodie scene is above Houston’s, is really insular and haughty of you. There’s a reason Houston makes the top 10 restaurant cities lists (which is a rating of the best overall scenes, not just fancy places.) Austin does not. These are two totally different tiers of cities we’re talking about here.”
We agree that we’re talking about two totally different tiers of cities. Houston is vast, Austin is small. But when it comes to national media attention Austin is THE buzz town in Texas. When Tony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Adam Richman, Bon Appetit, Chow, Robert Sietsema et al come to Texas they come, to Austin-then if they have a little extra time they may visit other towns but it’s Austin that’s driving the engine. Not Houston, not Dallas, not any other city in Texas.
Like it or not Austin is the media darling now and this attention is well deserved. It’s been a long time coming but we’re not taking a back seat any longer. We may be small in our physical footprint but we’re large from a culinary stand point.
We’ve had many delicious meals in Houston and we love the town. The reasons Top Chef chose other cities are manifold and we’ve exhaustively written about them in our Top Chef section. At the end of the day our state will be well served by this mammoth focusing of attention on Texas foodways. Now we’ll just sit back for a minute, eat another breakfast taco and flip over to side two of Border Wave.
all Top Chef Texas coverage right this way: