2012 Festival Chefs Nab James Beard Awards

And the winners are… Paul Qui and Christina Tosi!

That’s right, for the second year in a row a Texan has taken the James Beard Award crown of Best Chef: Southwest, certainly a coup for our state, not to mention our city. (Last year’s winner was not just any Texan chef — it was Austinite and Qui’s mentor, Tyson Cole.) If you missed Qui and Cole at the Festival in April — we hope you didn’t! — there’s always still a chance to taste the products of their culinary skills at either Uchi or Uchiko in Austin, or Uchi in Houston.

Ever the humble winner, Qui was quoted in a recent CultureMap Austin article as saying: “It’s really surreal. It’s such an amazing thing. I honestly wasn’t expecting to win. Usually chefs are nominated a number of times from year to year before they actually win.”

But Qui was not the only Festival Chef to dazzle the James Beard judges. Pastry Chef Christina Tosi took the official Rising Star Chef title at this week’s awards ceremony in New York City. We would have to agree with the judges on this one after tasting her inventive taco creation at the Rock Your Taco Showdown.

Congratulations Christina and Paul!