Regional Chefs from Austin, Dallas, and Houston to Participate in Texas Medal of Arts Awards Event


The Texas Cultural Trust is excited to announce that renowned chefs Paul Qui of Austin, John Tesar of Dallas, and Ja’Nel Witt of Houston will be showcasing their culinary skills at a VIP legislative reception presented by General Motors and afterward at an exclusive honoree dinner on Tuesday, February 24, kicking off the 2015 Texas Medal of Arts Awards in Austin, presented by AT&T.


“For the first time, the Texas Medal of Arts Awards is thrilled to include the culinary arts as a feature of our event,” said Jennifer Ransom Rice, executive director of the Texas Cultural Trust. “These chefs represent the best in Texas, and their creativity in the kitchen is both inspiring and mouth-watering. We are excited to showcase this art form and recognize their talent.”


Chef and owner of qui restaurant, the award-winning Paul Qui has quickly risen to culinary fame as winner of Top Chef Season 9 and the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2012. Prior to opening his flagship restaurant in Austin, which was named “Best New Restaurant of 2014” by GQ Magazine, Qui focused on incorporating influences from South East Asian and European cuisines in his work at Uchi and Uchiko. In 2014, Qui was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” and Esquire Magazine’s “Chef of the Year”.


A two-time James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: Southwest” semifinalist and Top Chef contestant, Dallas chef John Tesar is known for his classic European techniques infused in stylish, modern American cuisine. As chef and partner of the award-winning restaurants Spoon Bar & Kitchen and Knife in Dallas, Tesar has garnered much acclaim throughout his two decades in the restaurant industry, including national nods from Food &WineEsquire‘s “Best New Restaurants” two years in a row, Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurants,” Zagat’s “Hottest New Restaurants,” appearances on “The Today Show” and “The Early Show” and winning the inaugural season of Food Network’s “Extreme Chef.”


Showcasing her culinary skills and representing Houston at the exclusive Texas Medal of Arts Awards dinner, Ja’Nel Witt is the executive chef of Houston’s Corner Table and is well-known as the winner of FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 11. Witt’s Corner Table menus have garnered rave reviews from diners and critics alike, including being named one of just three Houston “Chefs to Watch in 2015” by Houstonia Magazine. Her lunch, dinner, brunch and event menus offer intensely flavorful and unique cuisine with nods to Thai, Spanish and Latin foodand, unique among fine-dining establishments, a strong focus on healthful options, including Paleo, Gluten-free, Vegan and Vegetarian dishes.


In its eighth biennial year, the Texas Medal of Arts Awards have spotlighted Texas’ best talent in music, film, dance, visual arts, corporate, and individual arts patronage, multi-media, television, architecture, theatre, arts education, literary arts, and lifetime achievement. This year, fifteen honorees will join the prestigious list of award recipients including Jamie Foxx for film, Chandra Wilson for television, T Bone Burnett for music, Rick Lowe for visual arts, and more. As the signature event for the Texas Cultural Trust, the Texas Medal of Arts Awards highlights and promotes the power of the arts to stimulate children’s education and the state’s economy, and to preserve the unique and proud Texas culture.


Following the VIP legislative reception and honoree dinner, the festivities will continue on Wednesday, February 25 beginning with the Stars of Texas Brunch at the Governor’s Mansion hosted by First Lady Cecilia Abbott and presented by Texas Monthly and culminating in the Texas Medal of Arts Awards at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. The Awards will begin with a Red Carpet Reception presented by Anheuser Busch at 5:30 p.m., followed by the awards show at 7:00 p.m., led by emcees Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, renowned anchors of FOX’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Special performances and presentations include previous Texas Medal of Arts honorees Ray Benson,Steve Miller, and Laura Bush, and current honorees Jamie Foxx, the Gatlin Brothers, and the Kilgore College Rangerettes, as well as Texas Young Masters Ani Mayo and Amber Pickens. The evening will come to a memorable end with a Gala Dinner at 8:30 p.m., where guests will sit alongside Texas arts, business, legislative, and entertainment notables.


For more information or to purchase tickets to the Texas Medal of Arts Awards, please visit or call 512.478.5289.





Established in 1995, the Texas Cultural Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes and highlights the importance of the arts in educating our children and sustaining our vibrant Texas economy. The Texas Cultural Trust supports the programs of the Texas Commission on the Arts and other qualifying state agencies. In addition to the biennial Texas Medal of Arts Awards, other programs include: Texas Women for the Arts, Founders for the Arts, Adventures in the ARTS, the Young Masters scholarship program, Art of Economic Development, and an Art & Digital Literacy Curriculum.  For more information on the Texas Cultural Trust, visit


About The Author

Hayden Walker
Executive Editor | Co-Publisher

Hayden Walker is the Editor in Chief and Director of Operations for Austin Food Magazine

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