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A Texan Was Named The Best Chef In The Southwest By National Culinary Organization

Kent Wang
Flickr Creative Commons
The kitchen at Oxheart in 2012.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Houston’s Justin Yu earned a coveted culinary title; you can rappel down the Reunion Tower in Dallas this month; many Texans have to navigate the insurance waters after months of severe storms; and more.

Justin Yu finally won Best Chef: Southwest at the James Beard Foundation gala in Chicago on Monday night after being a finalist for the past three years, according to the Houston Chronicle. And, it was the third occasion for a Houston chef to claim the culinary equivalent to the Academy Awards. Robert Del Grande won in 1992, and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly brought home the accolade in 2014, the Chronicle reported. OK, we’ll say it: Third time’s the charm.

Yu is the chef at Oxheart, a 30-seat restaurant in the Warehouse District that opened in 2012. Eater predicted Yu to win the title with 9:1 odds. Hugo Ortega of Caracol in Houston, Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine in Austin, and Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio were also nominated for Best Chef: Southwest. Seems that Alex Seidel, chef at Fruition in Denver, was the only non-Texan that could stand the heat.

Hillary Dixler, senior editor at Eater told Texas Standard, “It’s a lot for those other states to compete with, when Texas has three major dining centers in Houston, Dallas and Austin. I think Texas’s chances are always good in that category.”

The awards are named after James Beard, who’s considered the dean of American cookery, Dixler told Texas Standard. “She says the wins are in some ways symbolic, but they can affect a chef’s longevity.” Read more. [Houston Chronicle, Eater, Texas Standard]

  • You can rappel off two Dallas landmarks to help raise funds for alcohol and drug addiction recovery. As a part of the Shatterproof Challenge, a nonprofit’s thrill-induced effort to raise money to help addicts, more than 100 people will rappel 10 stories down the Hyatt Regency or 50 stories down’s Dallas’ iconic Reunion Tower. Shatterproof was started by CEO Gary Mendell, who lost his 25-year-old son to addiction. GuideLive reported: “He realized that, unlike other major diseases, there was no national organization that funded research and treatment or focused on changing public policy for those afflicted with addiction to illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol.” The May 21 event in Dallas is the first stop on a seven-city tour for the Shatterproof challenge this year. Read more on fundraising and registration. [GuideLive]

  • More than 200 East Texas homes were damaged or destroyed during last weekend’s severe storms. The American Red Cross assisted with recovery in several counties Tuesday, including Anderson, Cherokee, Harrison, Lamar, Smith, Upshur and Wood.The Associated Press reported: “Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says 84 homes were left uninhabitable from the storms. Foster says another 145 homes sustained minor damage such as windows broken, shingles torn off or fences knocked down. Forecasters say more than 7 inches of rain fell in less than an hour Friday night in East Texas.” Last weekend’s storms only added to months of accumulated damage affecting hundreds of Texas homes and costing billions in losses. Here’s how to navigate the post-storm insurance process. [The Associated Press, KERA News]

  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s restrictions on beard lengths and religious head coverings violates federal law, a New Orleans-based appeals court ruled. The Texas Tribune reported: “Prison rules don't allow for a fist-length, or four-inch long, beard and only permit religious headwear in inmates' cells or during religious services.” David Rasheed Ali, a Muslim inmate serving a 20-year sentence in the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony in East Texas, sued the TDCJ saying the current policy that supposedly prevents contraband within the prisons violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. “A trial court agreed with Ali, but TDCJ appealed the decision. In a Monday opinion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stood with the trial court and the inmate,” the Tribune reported. Read more. [The Texas Tribune]


  • Texas ranked in the lower half of the 50 states (and D.C.) in WalletHub’s 2016 Best & Worst States for Working Moms. WalletHub, the personal finance website, compared the country across three key metrics: child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance. Texas ranked 33rd overall, and it’s best score among the three main metrics was 17 for child care. Read the full report and methodology.