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Paul Qui returns to Austin, and other top chef updates

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

When Paul Qui returns to Austin next week after cooking at a Top Chef pop-up restaurant in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, he'll have several new projects on his plate. First up will be the debut of an East Side King outlet inside the Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe), where the long-abandoned kitchen has been refurbished and decorated with dynamic murals by local punk musician Peelander-Yellow. Look for some old and new East Side King menu favorites to emerge from the new kitchen for lunch and dinner by late November or early December. Meanwhile, plans for the South Lamar East Side King project are on track; according to Qui, he and remaining ESK partner Moto Utsunomiya expect that brick-and-mortar location to open in the spring of 2013. (Former ESK partner Ek Timrerk has moved on, with his own Spin Mod­ern Thai Cuisine.) And the newest spot on the busy top chef's horizon is his eponymous eatery, Qui (1600 E. Sixth), which is currently under construction across the intersection from the legendary Cisco's Bakery. Chef Paul says the new place has a full bar and will offer locally sourced cuisine in two areas: a 50-seat public dining room and a 20-seat dining room for tasting menu service. Award-winning sommelier June Rodil is leaving her position at Congress at the end of this month and will be general manager at Qui when it opens in late spring of 2013.

Bryce Gilmore, chef/owner of Barley Swine (2024 S. Lamar) made his first mark on the Austin culinary scene with Odd Duck, a trailer he customized himself and used to prepare and serve dishes based on his farmers' market shopping sprees. Not long after Barley Swine took off like a rocket, Gilmore closed Odd Duck, and the development of a mixed-use project called Gibson Flats began on the lot (1219 S. Lamar). Last week, Gilmore announced that he will re-create Odd Duck as a 120-seat, brick-and-mortar restaurant that will be part of Gibson Flats, with an outdoor dining area and a view of Downtown Austin. Gilmore and his longtime crew hope to be serving locally sourced fare at Odd Duck by late spring or early summer of 2013.

After a few years of traveling, working as chef de cuisine at Austin landmark Fonda San Mig­uel, and consulting on the opening of the new El Monumento in Georgetown, chef Jeff Mar­tin­ez has returned to the position of executive chef with Carlos Rivero's El Chile Restaurant Group. Martinez says he's looking forward to making a few creative changes to El Chile's menu and he hopes to introduce some new Interior Mexican and Latin dishes through a program of off-menu specials. In other El Chile news, Maribel Rivero has completed a basic culinary degree program at the Culinary Institute of America's San Antonio campus and will be part of the first graduating class of the CIA's new Latin Cuisines course of study. We ran into Maribel when she was busy assisting visiting chefs at the CIA's recent Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference and she said she's excited about working in recipe and menu development for the family company after her graduation this week.

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