It's no April Fool's Day prank — Oxheart chef/owner Justin Yu is one of Food & Wine magazine's best new chefs for 2014. Editor-in-chief Dana Cowin revealed Yu's status by tweeting a selfie of the two of them together. The awards are given annually to chefs who have been operating their own restaurants for five years or fewer.
Past honorees on the list, which first launched in 1988, include celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio and Michael Symon as well as Houstonians like Monica Pope, Bryan Caswell and Scott Tycer. Last year, Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd won the award.
Asked how he feels about winning, Yu replied, "Like I don't belong. Or that someone accidentally mistook me for some other Asian guy." All kidding aside, Yu said that "at the same time, I'm actually allowing myself to enjoy this one. It's one of those dreams you never think will happen . . . it's surreal."
Now that Oxheart is two years old, I asked if Yu has considered what's next for him. "We're just happy with making Oxheart better than ever," he replied. "Mark (Clayton) came back as sous chef and is doing an amazing job. I feel like the food is getting better and better. The staff we have are loyal, hard working and selfless. I couldn't ask for more."