Why He's Amazing: Because he's bringing light, imaginative (and spot-on) small plates like charred edamame with chile oil and pop rocks to Austin's meat-centric restaurant scene.
Culinary School: The New England Culinary Institute (Montpelier, VT)
Background: Vespaio, Uchi, Kenichi, Jeffrey's, Haddingtons (Austin)
Quintessential Dish: Maine diver scallop tiradito with cucumber, ají amarillo and Hawaiian red salt
His Philosophy at Swift's Attic: He cooks what he likes to eat. "We joke that we're the FUBU of kitchens: a 'for us, by us' kind of a thing."
First Food He Made as a Professional Chef: "Almost undoubtedly some type of quesadilla."
One of Many Food-Related Tunes He Loves: "Fried Chicken and Gasoline," by the rock band Southern Culture on the Skids. "Every year, SCOTS does a weeklong stint in Austin at the Continental Club and is known to toss out fried chicken in the audience when they play this track. About 10 years ago, I actually caught a piece out of midair with my teeth!"
Most Useful Chef Secret for Home Cooks: "If you're unsure what a dish might need, try a little fresh lemon juice or vinegar—any acid really helps the flavors pop."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.