Paul Qui standing in front of his original food trailer, with his partner, Motoyasu Utsunomiya. / © Jay B Sauceda
Organizers for Austin’s massive annual music, film and technology festival, South by Southwest (which kicks off Friday), tapped Top Chef: Texas winner and former Uchiko executive chef Paul Qui to curate a selection of 16 food trucks for SouthBites, the event’s first official food court. Qui currently operates three East Side King trucks, and last December he parlayed their success into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. When choosing businesses for the project, he looked for diversity beyond hot dogs and burgers, such as the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and South African local favorite Cazamance. Here, Qui reveals the secrets to operating a fantastic food truck and his picks for the best food at SouthBites.
At some restaurants, staff meals or “family meals” before service can be as simple as a pot of hastily thrown together chicken and rice, but at the unconventionally Japanese Uchi in Houston, Texas, they are a point of pride. To celebrate the new season of Top Chef Masters, which airs on Wednesdays at 10/9c, Bravo posted an exclusive look inside Uchi's enticing buffet-style staff meals. “We're a little bit spoiled,” says Top Chef Season 9 winner Paul Qui in the short film by Christian Remde. Homemade bread, crispy pork katsu, freshly-fried churros, miso-glazed salmon collar and even a side of sushi-grade blue fin tuna have made the cut. Top Chef fans won't be surprised to find out that there is an element of rivalry among the team. “We had a gnocchi battle when everybody got to make different kinds of gnocchi,” Qui says in the clip. Watch the video, and to find out where Qui eats out in Austin, check out his F&W Insider Travel Guide.
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