Dishola: Reviews by the Dish

dishola /dish•ō•lâ/
v. To share the love of food - dish by dish. n. The ultimate source to find real meals at real places that rule.
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Josh Watkins

Executive Chef
The Carillon
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Accomplished is the word that comes to mind when describing Josh Watkins, the former executive chef of The Driskill, Grill and now the executive chef of Austin’s new Carillon Restaurant.

Watkins keeps himself busy exploring new culinary creations at The University of Texas at Austin’s AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, where he oversees five restaurants and cafes (The Carillon being the focal point of the facility), not to mention the center’s banquet and catering services.

Next to his daily culinary projects, Watkins enjoys taking time out to visit local and sustainable farmers. He emphasizes using quality ingredients and fresh produce at his restaurants, which in addition to his exquisite menu pairings, has helped make him one of Austin’s most celebrated chefs.

Watkins began his culinary journey at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, incidentally, his favorite city in which to dine. His foodie recommendation there? The Cheese Room from Jardinière Restaurant.

In less than a year as the executive chef at the university’s hotel and conference center, Watkins has already achieved recognition for his culinary vision. Texas Monthly’s February 2009 issue recognized The Carillon as an honorable mention in its “Where to Eat Now: 2009” coverage of best restaurants in Texas.

What’s his life motto? “More fat please; it’s good for you in moderation.” Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Chorizo, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Taco at Nuevo Leon Taco Express Austin, TX
  2. Large Double Meat Double Cheese Burger at Dan's Hamburgers Austin, TX
  3. Pork Spare Ribs at Smitty's Lockhart, TX
  4. Steamed Pork Bun at Momofuku Noodle Bar New York, NY
  5. The Cheese Menu at Jardiniere Restaurant San Francisco, CA
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Tony Ciola

Tony C's Coal-Fired Pizza
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Tony Ciola’s last meal request? “I would fly to the Amalfi coast and eat fresh seafood and pasta with all of my friends and family.”

Not surprising. Restaurateur Tony Ciola operates one of Austin’s favorite new pizza joints, Tony C’s.

After an injury left him unable to play baseball, this enterprising businessman found a new passion in restaurant management. Ciola already comes from a family with a long history in the food business. His father owns Ciola’s Italian-American Restaurant in Lakeway.

After earning his chops at the family restaurant, and later training with top managers at Johnny Carino’s, Ciola’s desire to open and run his own restaurant grew, but he longed to find the right restaurant model for his own business.

That’s when a new opportunity arose. Hill Country Galleria was looking to bring in an Italian restaurant. Ciola and his father proposed a hip Italian haunt, serving classic fare and one-of-a-kind coal-fired pizza pies in an upbeat atmosphere.

Tony C’s has been a great fit for Austin, and is a concept that appeals to both traditional Italian food lovers and diners looking for a more sophisticated pizza restaurant. The process of coal-firing a pizza produces an evenly charred crust, perfectly caramelized toppings and an authentic New York-style pizza.

“It turned out to be a pretty good idea,” Ciola says, adding that he hopes to eventually open more Tony C’s locations. “When you are standing in the restaurant watching the tickets line up, the cooks cranking out orders, the waiters taking care of the guests, and the guests enjoying their experience, it’s a great feeling.”
Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Shag Roll at Uchi Austin, TX
  2. Stuffed Veal Chop Marsala at Patsy's Italian Restaurant New York, NY
  3. Marinara Pizza at Lombardi's Pizza New York, NY
  4. Gibson's T-Bone at Gibsons Steakhouse & Bar Chicago, IL
  5. Chocolate Bread at Taste of Texas Houston, TX
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Tom Pedersen

Cocoa Puro
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Tom Pedersen is the proud founder of Cocoa Puro, an Austin based chocolate company that specializes in developing pure whole bean chocolate. The Kakawa cocoa beans are fresh roasted and dipped in luscious milk, dark, and white chocolate, and then gently dusted with a velvety cocoa powder.
In 2004, Pedersen embarked on a new beginning. With just a handful of beans, he set up shop at the downtown Austin Farmers’ Market. Four hours later, he'd sold out of all of his product. Flash forward to a little over a year later, and Pedersen's crunchy Kakawa cocoa beans had been recognized as an editors favorite in the "Saveur 100".
Pedersen continues to grow his chocolate-dipped empire. He recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica where he sources his fair trade organic fine flavor beans.
Cocoa Puro’s Kawaka cocoa beans are sold in fine food and gift markets across the country, such as Whole Foods and Central Market, as well as via Pedersen's website.
The best part, he says, is that now he gets to eat all of the chocolate he wants - “It’s a wonderful life!”

Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Perkin's Special at El Patio Austin, TX
  2. Semifreddo at Dai Due Austin, TX
  3. Pignoli at Damian Mandola's Italian Market Austin, TX
  4. Rootbeer Float at Sandys Hamburgers Austin, TX
  5. Crudo at Uchi Austin, TX
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Cathy Strange

Global Cheese Buyer
Whole Foods Market
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Cathy Strange is the Global Cheese Buyer at Whole Foods Market. She began her career with Whole Foods Market as a part time Team Member in the wine department at the Wellspring Grocery in North Carolina sixteen years ago Since that time; Cathy has worked in three different regions for Whole Foods Market, holding Store Buyer, Team Leader and Coordinator positions.

Cathy’s passion for food created with fresh ingredients began during her experiences as manager/chef of a cutting edge Northern Italian restaurant. She is a tireless champion of Artisan, organic and/or sustainable-produced food products During her tenure as the Global Cheese Buyer for WFM, she orchestrated the first dedicated organic cheese shipments from Europe to the United States and represents Whole Foods Market in the Cheese Importers Association of American.

Cathy is a past president of the American Cheese Society, a position she held for two years and participated as a member of the board for 7 years. She has judged cheese competitions internationally and is a current member of the Cheese of Choice Coalition working with the Cheese Importers Association and Oldways Preservation and Trust to advocate for maintenance of raw milk products legislation.

Cathy is a member of SLOW Foods, Les Dames d’Escoiffier, Oldways Preservation and Trust and has been published in several periodicals and is quoted in the “The Oldways Table-Essays and Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank” by K. Dun Gifford and Sara Baer-Sinnott. She has been a presenter at many conferences including Cheese Art, the International Food Safety and Technology Conference, IACP Conference and the Wisconsin Cheese Technology Conference.

Cathy has been honored internationally with membership in Les Guilde des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, the most celebrated association of cheesemongers and specialists in France. She was honored for membership at the second level of Prud’homme. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Sole aux éclat’s de Yuzi at Hôtel Restaurant Troisgros Roanne, Roanne
  2. Hot Dog at Yum Yum's Mebane, NC
  3. Cochinita Pibil at Curra's Grill Austin, TX
  4. Agnolotti with Butternut Squash at Equinox Restaurant Washington, DC
  5. Beets with Valdeon and Serrano Ham at Bar Jamon New York, NY
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Rene Ortiz

Executive Chef
La Condesa
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Native Texan Rene Ortiz has come home. Born in Houston and raised in San Antonio, Chef Ortiz spent the past two decades traveling the world, cultivating his international culinary skills. Now he returns to the Lone Star state as executive chef of La Condesa, the hip new contemporary Mexican restaurant located in Austin’s vibrant 2nd Street district.

At La Condesa, Ortiz uses both traditional and modern cooking techniques and ingredients in his culinary homage to Mexico City's popular Condesa neighborhood. Dishes range from street food favorites like Mexican-style street corn and pollo rostizado (rotisserie chicken), to more sophisticated specialities such as yellowfin tuna ceviche in young coconut water with serrano and lime.

Ortiz began his culinary career in Vancouver, as Chef de Cuisine for Robert Clark at the celebrated Star Anise, named Canada’s Best Restaurant of the Year in 1996 by Gourmet Magazine. He later worked his way through the brasseries and bistros of Western Europe, absorbing their varied culinary styles and developing a taste for exotic, international flavors.

In 1998, Ortiz returned to the US and New York City where he opened DB Bistro Moderne with Daniel Boulud, and worked alongside Alain Ducasse at Mix and at Pallidan with esteemed Chef Jean-Louis Pallidan. He then became Chef de Cuisine for Douglas Rodriguez at Patria, dazzling diners with his modern Latin-American fare.

Most recently, he opened and served as Executive Chef at La Esquina. Time Out’s Best New Restaurant of 2007, La Esquina remains one of New York’s most coveted reservations.

Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Boudin and Foie Gras at Au Pied De Cochon MontreAl, QC
  2. Soft Egg Scramble at Marlow & Sons Brooklyn, NY
  3. Chili Dog at Pink's Los Angeles, CA
  4. Jellyfish at Golden Century Seafood Restaurant Sydney, NSW
  5. Big Eye Tuna at Dine By Peter Gordon Auckland, Auckland
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Lisa Fain

Writer, Blogger, Photographer
HomeSick Texan
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Lisa Fain is a seventh-generation Texan now hanging her hat in New York City. She writes and photographs a food blog called Homesick Texan, which was just named by the Times of London as one of the 50 best food blogs in the world. Her work has been seen online for publications such as Bon Appetit, USA Today, the Austin American-Statesman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And her photos have been exhibited in galleries worldwide with several in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress and the New York Historical Society.

Not surprisingly,Tex-Mex is her favorite cuisine, followed by Mexican food, early-20th century farm fare and Texas barbecue. Her favorite places to eat? "The entire state of Texas, Mexico City, Portland, Oregon, Queens, New York and Turin, Italy."
Lisa plans to go on a "Mexico City torta-crawl" this summer.
We can't wait to read about her findings!

Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Flautas at Grand Morelos Diner and Bakery Brooklyn, NY
  2. Fish Tacos at Tortilleria Nixtamal Flushing, NY
  3. Carnitas at Real Azteca Bronx, NY
  4. Green Salsa at Ninfa's Mexican Restaurant Houston, TX
  5. Cemita (Pueblan Sandwich) at El Sol Azteca Flushing, NY
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Steve Super

Executive Chef
Max's Wine Dive
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Austin, TX welcomes executive chef Steve Super to the capital city's latest and greatest in gourmet comfort food and divine wines: Max's Wine Dive. Who better to helm a kitchen that serves upscale home cooking and extraordinary wine than a man who's first love was music?
Prior to his culinary endeavors, Super was a touring muscian out of Nashville for the better part of 20 years. He toured with a number of groups, including Brooks & Dunn.
A 2004 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Super began his culinary career at the famed Little Nell in Aspen, before returning to new England in the fall of 2005 to open Steven and Erika's. Wildly popular, Steve and Erika's became Vermont's highest-rated restaurant in 2007. Most recently, Super has been executive chef over the Tasting Room concept in Houston.
Austinites eagerly await some of Super's (and Max's Wine Dive) specialties including Nacho Mama's Oysters, the Texas "Haute" Dog, and the Yama Kobe Beef Burger. For a chef who's "last meal request" is a grilled hamburger, we're going to guess that his Yama Kobe Beef Burger is pretty darn good. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Orange Braised Fennel and Pistachio Ice Cream at Hamersley's Bistro Boston, MA
  2. Lasagna at Via Emilia Italian Restaurant Houston, TX
  3. Gnocchi at Michael's on the Hill Restaurant Waterbury Center, VT
  4. Steak & Eggs at Mayberry Diner Inc Toledo, OH
  5. Kobe Burger with Seared Foie Gras at Max Wine Dive Houston, TX
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Wyatt McSpadden

Photographer & BBQ Aficionado
Wyatt McSpadden Photography
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McSpadden, a native of Amarillo, began his career there in 1974 as the photographer for eccentric arts patron Stanley Marsh. McSpadden photographed the creation of Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch—an installation of vintage Caddies buried nose down in a field—and chronicled the work’s evolution from local curiosity to state landmark.

In 1992 he moved to Austin and turned his focus to editorial photography. His portraits of governors, golfers, musicians, millionaires, and more have appeared in scores of publications nationwide, most notably in Texas Monthly, where he is a contributing photographer.

For almost twenty years, McSpadden has steadily pursued a private project: documenting authentic small-town barbecue joints, a venerable and essential part of the state’s culture. Texas BBQ is the culmination of that passion -

McSpadden's favorite cuisine? What else but BBQ. His favorite eating town? Lockart, TX. And his last meal request? That's simple: "my Mom's fried chicken."
Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. The 16 oz. Ribeye at Perini Ranch Steak House Buffalo Gap, TX
  2. Mesquite Grilled Redfish at Goode Co Texas Seafood Houston, TX
  3. Cochinita de Pibil at El Meson Austin, TX
  4. The Pork Loin at Kreuz Market Lockhart, TX
  5. The Top Pick at Top Notch Restaurant Austin, TX
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Natanya Anderson

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Roberto Espinosa

Founder and Owner
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"Food has an amazing way of teaching if all senses are engaged," says Roberto Espinosa, founder and owner of Austin's beloved Tacodeli Restaurants. Roberto, a native of Mexico City, opened Austin's first Tacodeli with partner Eric Wilkerson nearly ten years ago. Roberto grew up in Harlingen, TX, and was inspired by his Mom's cooking, as well as his work at the Hotel Gran Turismo in the Yucatan.

Roberto's favorite eating town (next to Austin, of course)? Brooklyn. "I visit regularly and am always amazed at the variety. One of my favorite meat markets there is called Los Paisanos. These guys have it down. I’ve purchased beautiful aged Rib Eyes and all of the staff were excited to hear about my meal. I went back a few days later and they remembered to ask me how it turned out. Now that's service."

As for Roberto's fantasy tablemates, he says he'd include Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, and Patricia Quintana at his dream dinner, "in an attempt to absorb some of their deep and thorough knowledge of Mexican cuisine." He'd add Teddy Roosevelt to the guest list - "in order to hear amazing stories about rugged individualism and Roosevelt's multiple accomplishments."

Today, Tacodeli has expanded to a north and south Austin location. It is widely recognized as one of Austin's most treasured taco gems. The taco house has won numerous awards, including the Austin Chronicle's Critics Picks, Readers Picks,'s "Best Breakfast Taco," and Texas Monthly's "63 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die". TacoDeli's menu ranges from healthy breakfast tacos, to the wildly popular Fronter Fundido Tacos, to Thunderheart Bison buffalo tacos, to a wide range of vegetarian options.
Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Pork Bulgogi at Korea House Austin, TX
  2. Red Snapper at Uchi Austin, TX
  3. Ribs, Brisket, Chops, and Sausage at Smitty's Lockhart, TX
  4. Achiote Seared Chickpeas and Goat Cheese at Lambert's Downtown Barbecue Austin, TX
  5. Pho with Eye Round (or Veggie) at Hai KY Austin, TX
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Addie Broyles

Addie Broyles
Food Writer
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Addie Broyles is the food writer for the Austin American-Statesman, where she blogs about eating in Central Texas (on Relish Austin), and tweets about everything from toddler food to her fondness for lime Icee Pops. Hailing from the Ozarks, Addie expanded her cooking (and eating) skills on the West Coast, and in Spain before settling in Austin. No wonder her fantasy tablemates include Pedro Almodovar, Javier Bardem, Mark Bittman and Anthony Bourdain. "I might invite Scarlett Johansson along, just to diffuse the testosterone," she adds.
Addie loves the aguas frescas at the taco stand down the street from her house where she, husband Ian, son Julian, and blue heeler Shiva call home.
Her last meal request? "Seared pork belly, fried garlic rice, and a special freshwater eel entree made specially for me by Tyson Cole," she says.
And to drink? Well that's an easy one. "Anything with gin made by the Tipsy Texans."
Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Breakfast Tacos at Taqueria Los Jaliscienses Austin, TX
  2. Cioppino at Anthonys Fish Grotto San Diego, CA
  3. Paella at University de Alicante San Vicente del Raspeig, 60
  4. Prosciutto Fontina and Egg Pizza at Vespaio Austin, TX
  5. Slice of Pizza at Shakespeares Pizza Columbia, MO
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Larry McGuire

Executive Chef
Lamberts Downtown Barbeque
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At 26 years old, Lawrence McGuire is one of those up and coming young chefs the critics can’t ignore. Born and raised in Austin, TX, McGuire says his favorite eating town is New Orleans. “I try to go there every year. I love that you can eat and drink there all day. I like to bar hop from oyster bar to oyster bar, plus some of the best young chefs are there.”

McGuire began his culinary training under chef Louis Lambert at Liberty Catering and Lamberts American Kitchen. While attending the University of Texas, McGuire cooked full time at chef Lamberts award winning restaurant on South Congress. His favorite cuisine? “I don’t think Texas gets enough credit for having its own cuisine,” he says. “I could eat Mexican food and barbecue everyday and be happy.”

After leaving school, McGuire worked for Crestline Hotels International, revamping Food & Beverage programs in Houston and San Antonio. In 2005, McGuire returned to Austin to begin work on the restaurant that would become Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. McGuire has served as project manager, executive chef, and general partner of the beloved “fancy barbecue” Austin haunt since it opened in 2006.

What does the future hold in store for McGuire? In 2009, McGuire’s Blue Dog Management will help open La Condessa, a high-end interior Mexican concept in Austin’s 2nd Street District. McGuire has also begun work on a Grocery, Bakery, and Café to be located on Austin’s Eastside.

As for the rising young star’s fantasy tablemates: “I like Bills,” says McGuire. “Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and cooks Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Daniel Boulud.”

Now that’s an interesting dinner table. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad and Toast at Parkside Restaurant Austin, TX
  2. Richie Valens Burger at Huts Hamburgers Austin, TX
  3. Pie, Coffee and Jameson at Liberty Bar San Antonio, TX
  4. Fajitas at El Tiempo Restaurant Houston, TX
  5. Yam & Shrimp Cakes at Tam Deli & Cafe Austin, TX
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Patricia Sharpe

Patricia Sharpe
Food Editor, Texas Monthly
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Patricia Sharpe, a native of Austin, joined the staff of Texas Monthly in 1974 when the magazine was still in its infancy; at the time, it was going on two years old. She edited the magazine's cultural and restaurant listings, and over the years, she also wrote a consumer column called "Touts." Eventually she focused exclusively on food, and her entertaining story "War Fare," an account of living for 48 hours on military-style MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat), was included in the anthology Best Food Writing 2002 (Marlowe & Company). Ms. Sharpe writes a regular restaurant column for Texas Monthly, and is in demand to judge food contests (she declines those involving large quantities of chile peppers or hot sauce). In March 2005, she wrote a memoir of her thirty years as a restaurant critic entitled "Confessions of a Skinny Bitch." It won a James Beard Foundation award for magazine food writing. She stands five feet, seven inches tall and weighs 118 pounds fully fed and fully clothed. Her fantasy tablemates? "George Clooney. Period." Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. American Beauty Cake at Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe Fredericksburg, TX
  2. Chianti-braised short ribs with burrata risotto at Da Marco Houston, TX
  3. Lobster Bisque at The Sandbar Fish House & Market San Antonio, TX
  4. Maguro sashimi and goat cheese at Uchi Austin, TX
  5. Pizza Bianco, with four cheeses at Dough Pizzeria Napoletana San Antonio, TX
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Carlos Rivero

El Chile, El Chilito, Stortini
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Carlos Rivero was born in Bolivia, but he usually tells people he’s from San Antonio. “It’s not only where I grew up, it’s where I was introduced to the food business, and where I got my first restaurant job."
Rivero's grandfather owned a tortilla factory."That’s where I went after school; that’s what I did on my summer vacation. I learned a lot about the business from my grandfather’s factory," he says.
He later gained knowledge about the "front of the business" when he waited tables at Boudreau’s, a longtime favorite restaurant on San Antonio's Riverwalk.
Rivero eventually moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, but diligently continued his extracurricular education by waiting tables at the city’s best restaurants. “I loved working at Zoot, and at Jeffrey’s,” he says.
But by 2002, Rivero was exhausted, and felt he'd learned everything he could by waiting tables. It was time to open his own restaurant.
Within months, Rivero found the Eastside property that would become El Chile. He asked fellow Jeffrey's colleagues, Kristine and Jeff, to run El Chile's kitchen.
"It was good timing for everyone," Rivero says. El Chile opened in October 2003 to rave reviews and steady business. By 2005, the team had opened a take-away taco business, El Chilito, just a quarter mile down Manor Road from El Chile.
Not long after, a third restaurant opportunity presented itself - a casual Italian eatery called Stortini. "I have a Tex-Mex soul," says Rivero, "but Stortini incorporates a lot of what I learned in places like Jeffrey’s, and I love being able to bring that to East Austin." Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Chile Relleno at The Tune-Up Cafe Santa Fe, NM
  2. Downtown Charlie's Special at El Chile Cafe and Cantina Austin, TX
  3. Duck and Shrimp at Jeffrey's Restaurant Austin, TX
  4. Blue Crab Tostada at Boudro's on the Riverwalk San Antonio, TX
  5. Oyster Po Boy at Acme Oyster House New Orleans, LA
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Paul Petersen

Executive Chef
The Gage Hotel
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A graduate of the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Paul Petersen cut his culinary teeth while working with some of New York's best chefs including Michael Romano (Union Square Cafe), Larry Forgione (An American Place), and Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat).
Paul moved back home to Texas in 2002 to open the award winning four -star Little Texas Bistro. With his matchless imagination, Petersen ennobled simple food to its highest form. Critics took note, honoring the young star with accolades: “Best New Chef” from the Austin American Statesman, “Best New Restaurant” and “Rising Kitchen Star” from the Austin Chronicle.
In May of 2006 Paul took his family, skills and passion for food and wine to West Texas, where he proudly now works as the Executive Chef of the famed Gage Hotel. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Steak Frites with Cabernet Butter at Les Halles Park Avenue New York, NY
  2. Puffy Tacos at VIVO Cocina Texicana Austin, TX
  3. Deep fried Egg with Smoked Duck at Ouest New York, NY
  4. Crispy Trout with Stewed Tomatoes at Red Cat New York, NY
  5. Ancho Glazed Quail and Fried Quail Egg at The Gage Hotel Marathon, TX
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Larry Perdido

Executive Chef
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
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Texas native Larry Perdido's latest restaurant, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, provides a playful take on classic American home cooking in a friendly and relaxed setting. Nestled in a charming cluster of 1850's historical buildings in Austin, TX, Moonshine welcomes diners with a down-home menu that offers signature items such as "Corn Dog" shrimp, Beer Battered Asparagus, and Cornflake Fried Chicken Salad.
A Texas Longhorn, Larry Perdido left Austin upon graduating and enrolled in The School of Culinary Arts in Houston. He trained under some notable chefs, including Carl Walker of Brennan's and mentor, Monica Pope, of the Quilted Toque and Boulevard Bistro.
Perdido was Executive Chef under James Beard award-winner, Robert McGrath of Brio Vista/Roaring Fork. At Brio Vista, Perdido met his future business partner, Chuck Smith. Their first endeavor in 1998 was a coastal inspired cafe & bar, Saba Blue Water Café, in both Austin and Houston.
The strangest thing chef Perdido has ever eaten?
"Being Filipino," he says, "I have eaten dog and embryonic chicken/duck eggs (called Balut) on a family trip to the Motherland as a child. I have eaten cobra at a Chinese restaurant in Houston....and I have sipped Viper Rum from Belize."

Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Straight Plate at Maudie's Too Austin, TX
  2. Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich at Goode Company Barbeque Houston, TX
  3. Jalapeno Hanger Steak at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill Austin, TX
  4. Dim Sum at Fung's Kitchen Houston, TX
  5. Curried Mussels at Clay Pit Austin, TX
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Elmar Prambs

Executive Chef, TRIO
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Since joining Four Seasons Hotel Austin in 1986, Prambs’ unique flavor combinations and stunning presentations have earned him an outstanding reputation among fellow chefs and loyal guests. Deciding early on that he wanted to make culinary arts his profession, Prambs went on to complete an apprenticeship with a German master chef and to work in kitchens in Europe and Canada before joining Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Most recently, he was responsible for leading the transformation of The Café into TRIO, Four Seasons Hotel Austin’s new signature restaurant specializing in prime steaks, fresh seafood and fine wine.
Check out Chef Prambs' top five favorite dishes, and learn where he has celebrated every wedding anniversary with his wife for the last 20 years, as well as where to find the best roasted chicken in New York City!

Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. The #2: Elvis Presley Memorial Combo at Chuy's Comida Deluxe Incorporated Austin, TX
  2. Duck Fat French Fries at Stripsteak Las Vegas, NV
  3. Hot and Crunchy Ruby Trout at Hudson's on the Bend Austin, TX
  4. Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas and Pecans at Trio Austin, TX
  5. Roasted Farm Chicken at Craftsteak New York, NY
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Bob Waggoner

Executive Chef
Charleston Grill at Charleston Place Hotel
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Honored by the James Beard Foundation as one of the James Beard’s Rising Stars of the 21st Century, Bob Waggoner is the Executive Chef of the Charleston Grill at Charleston Place. Chef Waggoner has gained recognition from the country’s leading culinary publications, including Food & Wine and Saveur. Waggoner is one of the few Americans to be knighted with “l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the Government of France. In September 2007, Chef Waggoner launched his first cookbook, Charleston Grill at Charleston Place: French-Influenced Lowcountry Cuisine. Check out Chef Waggoner's all-time favorite dishes, ranging from pigeon baked in pig's roasted baby bird! Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Truite Au Blue at Le Vieux Moulin Bouilland, Burgundy
  2. Pigeon Au Vessie at Lameloise Chagny, Burgundy
  3. Crominiski Au Truffe at LEsperance Saint-Pere-Sous-Vezelay, Burgandy
  4. Roasted Ortalons at Charles Barrier Restaurant Tours, Tours Nord
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Tyson Cole

Executive Chef and Co-Owner
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"The cuisine I create is playfully multi-cultural, mixing the Japanese tradition with tastes that inspire me,” says Tyson Cole, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Uchi in Austin, Texas. Tyson became fascinated with sushi in his early twenties while working at Musashino, a Japanese restaurant in Austin. He quickly worked his way up, from dishwasher to head sushi chef.

Tyson continued his path of study and experimentation in Japan and New York, dedicating himself to learning every aspect of the cuisine. He began experimenting with new ideas about flavors, textures, and ingredients.

In May of 2003, Uchi opened with Tyson at the helm. Tyson’s whimsical “East meets West” dishes, full of diverse tastes and textures, quickly garnered him local as well as national attention. The accolades continued when he was awarded a coveted spot on Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2005 list.

These days, you’ll find Tyson at the Uchi sushi bar, chatting with dinner guests, creating edible art at rapid speeds, and collaborating with the other sushi chefs and chef de cuisine. He is quick and emphatic about his success. “It’s not about me,” he says modestly, “it’s all about our amazing team.” Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Shabu Shabu at Ginza Ryumeikan Hanagoyomi Ginza, Tokyo
  2. Uni Sashimi with Baby White Shrimp at Soto New York, NY
  3. Tonjiru at Musashino Sushi Dokoro Austin, TX
  4. Roasted Chicken with Cous-Cous at Bartlett’s Austin, TX
  5. Gnocchi at Vespaio Austin, TX
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Judiaann Woo

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Pastry chef and food writer, Judiaann Woo, chalks up her love of cooking to her undeniable love of eating. Born in South Korea and raised in Portland, Oregon, Judiaann graduated first in her class at The French Culinary Institute in New York City, where she received a Grand Diplome in Classic Pastry Arts. The valedictorian put her hard-earned skills to work as executive and corporate pastry chef in several Manhattan restaurants and bakeries including Bouley Bakery, Danube, The Mercer Kitchen, Rue 57, Tao, and Polka Dot Cake Studio. Today, Judiaann serves as the Editor-in-Chief of, a dynamic website sponsored by the French Culinary Institute, and is a Contributing Editor to Food Arts Magazine.

Perhaps Judiaann's most colorful claim to fame to date: she is the 2006 winner of Haagen-Dazs' first national flavor search contest. Look for her name under pints of "Sticky Toffee Pudding" ice cream in grocery stores across the country. (Watch Judiaann's winning sticky toffee pudding ice cream video by clicking her image above.)

But before you think her Top 5 dishes are all sweet, take another gander. This pastry princess offers a couple of intriguing savory finds as well. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Avocado Toast at Cafe Gitane New York, NY
  2. Sticky Toffee Pudding at Schiller's Liquor Bar New York, NY
  3. Raspberry-Lemon Vacherin with Thai Basil, Meringue, Raspberry Marshmallows at Daniel New York, NY
  4. Beef Brisket Sandwich at Daisy May's BBQ USA New York, NY
  5. Cappuccino at 9th Street Espresso New York, NY
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Andrew Freeman

Andrew Freeman & Co.
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Some people were born to wave the banner of good food and drink. And fancy hotels. Such is the case with Andrew Freeman, president of San Francisco-based Andrew Freeman & Co., a boutique marketing and public relations agency specializing in hospitality and lifestyle (good livin’ to you and me, pal). Prior to opening AF&Co., Andrew worked for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants as the Vice President, launching dozens of hotels around the country. Before that, he spent time in Manhattan, as director of Marketing for the Russian Tea Room and Windows on the World, the infamous restaurant that topped the World Trade Centers. When he's not working, you can always find him on a Stairmaster, working off crab cakes, at the theater (humming show tunes) or in a restaurant. Having PR in his DNA, are some of Andrew’s Dishola picks from his roster of clients? Of course. Are they worth a detour just the same? You betcha. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Crab Cakes at étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon Yountville, CA
  2. Half-and-Half (cottage fries and onion rings) at The Palm - Dallas Dallas, TX
  3. Matzoh Ball Soup at Firefly - DC Washington, DC
  4. Veal Meatballs at Osteria Via Stato Chicago, IL
  5. Cheese pizza at Escape From New York Pizza San Francisco, CA
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Alma Alcocer-Thomas

Executive Chef
Jeffrey's Restaurant
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Mexico City native Alma Alcocer-Thomas knew at the age of fifteen that she wanted to train at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Not only did she achieve that goal, but she stayed on in Paris for several years, deepening her knowledge of food and wine firsthand by cooking in some of the city's famed restaurants.

Chef Alcocer-Thomas chalks up her love of fresh, seasonal ingredients to the variety of foods she enjoyed growing up in Mexico City. "There were always home-cooked meals and fresh vegetables in the house," she says. "I grew up feasting on dishes that were both earthy and sophisticated such as favada, a cassoulet-like dish of chorizo and white beans."

Today, as executive chef at Jeffrey's, one of Austin's oldest and most respected fine dining haunts, Alcocer-Thomas adroitly capitalizes on the disparate culinary influences of her life. When refined French training meets the soul of Mexican cooking, the results are harmonious, stirring, and always memorable.

Don't miss Dishola's exclusive video interview with chef Alcocer! Learn about why chef Alma loves the green beans at Enoteca, what her favorite menu item is at Jeffrey's, and where she goes when she's in the mood for a great burger. Click the play icon in the image above to watch now. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Haricots verts, soppressata & asiago at Enoteca Austin, TX
  2. Sea Scallop "Carpaccio" at Jeffrey's Restaurant Austin, TX
  3. Pollo Chipotle at Elsi's Restaurant Austin, TX
  4. Tacos al Pastor at Taqueria El Farolito Mexico City, Mexico
  5. 78704 Burger at Phil's Ice House Austin, TX
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Lou Lambert

Lambert's BBQ
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Fancy Barbecue? That's the question posed, and pulled off, by chef-owner Lou Lambert (and executive chef Larry McGuire) at Lambert's Downtown Barbecue, a casually hip new restaurant in downtown Austin. In clumsier hands, the notion of upscale BBQ would be as alarming as using designer lettuce on a platter of Tex-Mex fare. But from Lambert, who hails from a fifth-generation cattle ranching family in Odessa, Texas, this translates to smoky, succulent meat, Seared Hanger Steak with Charmoula Butter, and Texas-inspired appetizers delivered in an appealing urban setting (and live music upstairs). Consider Achiote-Seared Chickpeas with Goat Cheese and Grilled Pita, Cabrito Pâté Wild Boar Ribs with Hoisin Glaze, even classics like house-made Red Hot Links. (For dessert, don't miss the Carmelita with Dulce de Leche sauce.) A Texas boy through-and-through, it's no surprise that Lou's favorite dishes make carnivores everywhere proud — pass the steak knife. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Beef Short Ribs at Lambert's Downtown Barbecue Austin, TX
  2. Chili Relleno at Benitos Restaurante Fort Worth, TX
  3. Enchiladas Rojas at El Sol Y La Luna Austin, TX
  4. Roasted Chicken at Zuni Cafe San Francisco, CA
  5. Strip Steak at Cattlemen's Ft Worth Steak House Fort Worth, TX
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Paul Kahan

Dishola Username:

Let’s face it; they’ve got it easy in California. But you gotta love a guy that puts the farmer’s market first in a city like Chicago, with a growing season of, well, a few fleeting months (thank goodness for relishes and root vegetables). With an ever-growing list of accolades, celebrity chef Paul Kahan is the poster child for the new guard of Chicago chefs (an honor recognized by his recent James Beard nominee for “Outstanding Chef of the Year” and winning the James Beard “Best Chef of the Midwest” in 2004). Known for being passionately seasonal and unconventionally creative, he rules the range at his two red hot restaurants, Blackbird, an upscale French bistro, and Avec, a sleek wine bar that serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine (pass the chorizo-stuffed dates). Kahan and his partners will open a Gastro pub (that’s a beer-focused menu, my friend…belch) in early 2008. Born and bred in the Windy City (his dad owned a deli and smokehouse), this “really, I’m just an average guy” chef knows where to go in the Windy City, and beyond, to get a good hot dog--and more. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Bacala Pizza at Avec Restaurant & Wine Bar Chicago, IL
  2. Grilled Hamachi Collar at Katsu Japanese Restaurant Chicago, IL
  3. Hebrew National hot dog at Wrigley Field Chicago, IL
  4. Ginseng Tofu Soup at Sogongdong Tofu House Restrnt Chicago, IL
  5. Frittes and Poperings, Hommel Bier at T Brugs Beetje Brugge, Brugge
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Rebecca Rather

Executive Chef and Co-Owner
Rather Sweet/Rebecca's Table
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You gotta love a Texas born and bred pastry chef that’s known for confections like Big Hair Meringue Tarts, Pink Shortbread Pig Cookies, and Bacon and Cheddar Scones. Rebecca Rather’s enchanting bakery, Rather Sweet, is located in Fredericksburg, and it’s a beacon for foodies throughout The Hill Country. Her first cookbook, “The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe" (Ten Speed Press) has sold over 35,000 copies. Her second book, "Pastry Queen Christmas," will be released this December. When she’s not flour-dusted, making peach kolaches, or tending pet pig Priscilla, this Beamont native travels the country to teach classes and eat great food in the name of research. Lucky for us, Rebecca was willing to share her all-time favorite dishes. (Pssst: Look for Rebecca’s forthcoming new yet-to-be-named interior Mexican restaurant, opening in Fredericksburg later this summer.) Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Sticky Toffee Pudding with Medjool Dates and Oatmeal Ice Cream at TRU Chicago, IL
  2. Shrimp and Grits at Louis's at Pawleys and the Fish Camp Bar Pawleys Island, SC
  3. Lobster Volcano at August E's Fredericksburg, TX
  4. Carlton's Chocolate Chewies at Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe Fredericksburg, TX
  5. Cochinita Pibil at Moroma Resort Yucatan, Mexico
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Laurie Rosenwald

Dishola Username:

Laurie Rosenwald is the World’s Most Commercial Artist and principal of rosenworld. Rosenworld’s motto is “No job too big, No job too small, No job too medium.” The studio’s areas of expertise include drawing, graphic design and typography. They make books, magazines, packaging, logos, and posters. And animation. And portraits. Actually there is no studio, Miss Rosenwald usually works alone, and rosenworld doesn’t exist. In spite of this, was launched in 1995. Laurie Rosenwald’s “New York Notebook” is published by Chronicle Books. It’s a hyperillustrated, overdesigned guidebook, sketchbook, and blank book all mushed up together.

Her new children's book, "And to name but just a few: red, yellow, green, blue" will be published in 2007 by Blue Apple Books. She is also working on two other books: "All the wrong people have self-esteem" and "How to make Mistakes on Purpose."

At home she prefers eggs scrambled with cream cheese and scallions, like her dad used to make, but here's what she eats in Sweden and New York, among other places. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Bulgogi at Dok Suni's New York, NY
  2. Lamb Prosciutto at Locanda Vini & Olii Brooklyn, NY
  3. Monkfish Liver on Buttered Toast at Prune New York, NY
  4. Oyster Pan Roast at Grand Central Oyster Bar New York, NY
  5. Several Kinds of Herring at Bak Fikan Stockholm, Sweden
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Andrew Zimmern

Food Writer
Travel Channel
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“Asking a glutton like me to pick my top five favorite dishes makes as much sense as my standing in your garage would make me your car,” says Andrew Zimmern, a globe-trotting food writer and TV personality. If you aren’t familiar with Zimmern, you will be--his much-anticipated television series, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern! ( premieres on Monday evenings at 9pm on February 26th. The breakneck research and cast iron stomach (in addition to a steady stream of scallops, truffles, and foie gras this guy has eaten tarantulas, camel, whale, and bull balls) required for research has resulted in an astonishing collection of extraordinary meals (see his favorites, below).
Zimmern is also a restaurant columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, and he writes an excellent blog, Chow and Again, on
In Minneapolis, Andrew is the food reporter for Fox 9 News and he hosts the popular Chowhounds! on Saturdays on Clear Channel’s KTLK, FM–100.3. When he’s not boarding trains, boats, and planes, Andrew lives with his wife Rishia and their son, Noah, in St. Paul.
Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Beef Wellington at La Broche Madrid, 29
  2. Twice Cooked Duck Enchiladas at Izote Mexico City, MO
  3. Scallop with Yuzu and White Soy Gelee at Tetsuya Wakuda Sydney, NSW
  4. Roast Squab with Foie Gras and Morels at Alinea Chicago, IL
  5. Risotto with Rooster Combs at Mas Les Cols Olot, Spain
  6. Pizza Neapolitana at Punch Neapolitan Pizza St Paul, MN
  7. Hamburger at JG Melon New York, NY
  8. Ham and Cheese Sandwich at La Belle Vie Minneapolis, MN
  9. Grilled Ox Heart with Veal Bone Marrow at Roast London, England
  10. Escrole with Anchovies and Nutmeg at 112 Eatery Minneapolis, MN
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Joshua Bingaman

Progress Coffee
Dishola Username:

When Joshua Bingaman moved to Austin three years ago, he lamented that the only coffee shops in town were dark, wood-paneled spaces that reeked of patchouli. So opened his own -- Progress Coffee -- and gave Austin a streamlined and stylish space to sip joe and listen to Nick Drake. Progress has other perks too: the staff is friendly, the industrial landscape is strangely appealing, and the coffee and sandwiches rock. So does Bingaman in his spare time: this multi-talented entrepreneur has written and recorded three albums, including the titles "Passing Pleasures", and "Belongings." Before moving to Austin, Joshua lived in San Francisco, where he opened the Subterranean Shoe Room with his brother. Given his knack for style and substance (in free trade beans, music, and stilettos), we knew we needed to pass on his favorite dishes. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Porridge at Sarabeth's New York, NY
  2. Matzo Ball at Bagelstein's Deli Dallas, TX
  3. Khuroos-E-Tursh at Clay Pit Austin, TX
  4. Gyros at Zorba's Mediterranean Cuisine Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Shrimp Tempura at Moki's San Francisco, CA
  6. Spinach Alfredo Tortellini w/ ham and peas at E'Angelo San Francisco, CA
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Amy Cook

Dishola Username:

Amy Cook is a singer songwriter living and working in Austin and Marfa, Texas. Her soulful music has appeared in a variety of films and TV shows (Laguna Beach, The L Word, Veronica Mars, Felicity and Dawson's Creek, to name a few). The Bunkhouse Recordings, her first release from the independent label, Marfa Records, has amassed a cult following. Amy has shared the stage with Rod Stewart (for VH-1), but she's not sharing her favorite Chips and Salsa. Not with just anyone, that is. Dishola editorial

Top 5 Dishes
  1. Roasted Chicken at Zuni Cafe San Francisco, CA
  2. Chips y Salsa at Malo Los Angeles, CA
  3. Jo's Hamburger at Jo's Coffee Austin, TX
  4. Enchiladas de Mole Rojo at El Chile Cafe Y Cantina Austin, TX
  5. Grapefruit and Jicama Salad at Slanted Door San Francisco, CA
  6. Pad Thai at Kin Khao New York, NY

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This Week's Divine Dish

Screaming Orgasm at Tomo Sushi Austin, TX