Photo © Paul Sedillo Photography

Justin Yu

Restaurant: Oxheart

Location: Houston

Why He's Amazing: In the middle of meat-loving Houston, he's become famous for his extraordinary garden prix fixe menu, featuring preserved, raw and caramelized vegetables. At $49, it's one of the country's best bargains.

Quintessential Dish: A stew of Queen Anne peas and fermented brassicas with Texas rice, mushrooms and caramelized sauerkraut.

Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY; University of Houston.

Restaurant CV: *17, Houston; Green Zebra, Spring, C-House, Chicago; Ubuntu, Napa.

Inspirational Spot: The Rothko Chapel, a meditative art space in Houston. "It's really nice to sit in there. You stare at the paintings and you start to notice all the little details—the canvases look straight black or straight brown, but they're filled with color. Being able to think like that is really important for a chef. It's the little details that make a dish yours, and special."

All-Time Favorite Restaurant: Relæ, in Copenhagen.

Restaurant: Oxheart (Read a review)

Location: Houston

Why He's Amazing: Because he's leaving Texans speechless with his delicious, artistic renderings of vegetables.

Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY), University of Houston

background: *17 (/sites/default/files/ouston); Green Zebra, Spring, C-House (Chicago); Ubuntu (Napa)

Quintessential Dish: Stew of Queen Anne peas and fermented brassicas with Texas rice, mushrooms and caramelized sauerkraut

Inspiration: A meal he ate in Copenhagen, at the restaurant Relæ. "I want to do a similar thing with Oxheart. Serious food without the trappings of a high-end restaurant."

Style: "Everything comes from the gulf. We try to be as creative as we can without it being obnoxious."

Aspirations: "It's always been a dream of mine to open something more progressive in my hometown."

Oxheart's Reception: Yu has a reputation for vegetarian-focused food, stemming partly from his time at Ubuntu. Of his often-changing menus, one in three is completely vegetarian. "It's a lot less protein than most people [are used to], but the reception has been overwhelmingly good." -->