Foodie News

A surprise at James Beard: A Houston-bound Texan takes top chef, but it's not Bryan Caswell

A surprise at James Beard: A Houston-bound Texan takes top chef, but it's not Bryan Caswell

News_Bryan Caswell_courtesy Daily Blender
Nominee Bryan Caswell of Houston's Reef on the James Beard Foundation Awards green carpet in 2010. Courtesy of Daily Blender
News_Tyson Cole_chef
Uchi's Tyson Cole won Best Chef: Southwest in a rare tie, sharing the stage with Las Vegas' Saipan Chutima.
News_Bryan Caswell_courtesy Daily Blender
News_Tyson Cole_chef

The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest has come back to Texas, but not to Houston — yet.

For the eighth time in the history of the Beard awards, voting ended in a tie between two of the five nominees, with dual victory going to Saipin Chutima of Las Vegas' Lotus of Siam and Austinite Tyson Cole for his restaurant Uchi. Cole plans to open a Houston Uchi in the fall.

Fellow nominee and current Houston celebrity chef Bryan Caswell congratulated the winners via Twitter, thanking Houstonians for their support and the "opportunity to represent," and graciously congratulated Cole on his win.

"Congrats to Tyson Cole, honestly Uchi is my favorite restaurant," tweeted Caswell live from the awards show. Caswell was up for Best Chef: Southwest last year as well.

Accepting her medal, through an interpreter Chutima said she felt like a bride instead of the bridesmaid for once. And Cole seemed struck by the rare tie, thanking his Uchi team and remarking at how no one thought he could make sushi when he started out because he wasn't Asian.

It's the first time a Texan has won the award since Stephan Pyles in 1991 (which was also pointed out first by Caswell), and with Uchi planning a fall opening in the former Felix spot on Westheimer, Houstonians can be excited that soon we'll have another Beard Award winner working in town.

As for Caswell, well, there's always next year.

Update: The most recent Texas chef to win Best Chef: Southwest was Houston's Robert Del Grande in 1992.