No less an authority than Tom Colicchio said that Paul Qui was the most talented chef he’d seen in the first 12 seasons of “Top Chef,” so it should come as no big shock that Paul won Season 9 of “Top Chef” and secured a place on this list. In addition to his “Top Chef” win, Paul has also earned a place on Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs of 2014” list, and he has also been awarded “Chef of the Year” by Esquire magazine in 2014, the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Southwest” award in 2012, and was the winner of the 2013 “S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup Young Chef of the Year.”
Born in Manila, Philippines and raised in the United States, Paul has tapped into his varied cultural experiences to become one of the more unique chefs on this list. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX, Paul began his culinary career working for Tyson Cole, the chef and owner of Uchi and Uchiko restaurants in Austin. After having worked his way up to the role of executive chef and chef de cuisine at Uchiko, Paul opened his eponymous restaurant Qui in Austin in 2012.
Qui closed earlier this year, but fans of Paul’s need not worry: he’s planning on opening a new restaurant in the same location called Kuneho next month.
Specialties & Resources
Paul’s cooking philosophy is centered around his obsession with creating “the perfect bite.” Whether that means drawing from traditional Philippine dishes as with his sisig (crispy pig’s head with egg yolk custard, cilantro, jalapeñ vinegar and fried egg emulsion), lumpiang sariwa (daikon with carrots and peanuts), wagyu strip loin with nam jim, charred-pickled cauliflower, leeks and thai chili, or his rabbit nam with pickled shallot and crushed peanut, he is willing to try any combination of flavor profiles to reach his goal.
Paul has long demonstrated a flair for creating unique dishes that harken back to his Filipino roots, while also incorporating the influences he has picked up in his professional journey. His varied influences give him a broad foundation from which to build his creations, and his keen eye for spotting two disparate flavors that somehow complement one another is unmatched.
Though Paul’s dishes could best be described as “global fusion,” to do so would perhaps diminish the artful way in which his creations come to life. As Paul’s own Wikipedia page says, “Paul is an amazing chef.” We’re inclined to agree.