This year's Best Chef in the Southwest, according to the James Beard Foundation, owns a barbecue restaurant. He wears dirty Converse sneakers, drinks beer and smokes meat for a living.
Yes, it's true!
Each year, the coveted award honors the best and brightest minds in the culinary world, as chosen by a judging group of industry professionals. Aaron Franklin, chef of his eponymous barbecue restaurant in Austin, nabbed the award for our region. He was up against chefs in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahama, Texas and Utah. (No chefs from Dallas were finalists for the award.)
According to Texas Monthly, Franklin was the first pitmaster ever to be considered for a James Beard Award.
We've called Franklin a "barbecue wizard." His brisket is worth the two-hour wait you'll most likely endure if you head south on 35E on a Saturday morning. But Franklin has helped make standing in line fun, somehow: Bring a lawn chair and a six-pack of beer and the time will fly right by. I've happily done it.
Franklin has become a poster boy for quality barbecue in Texas, and Texans should be proud that his skill with a smoker has earned him such an important award. He's further proof that food need not be fancy to be fantastic.
If you're into barbecue, check out a new book about Franklin's food.
Several hours earlier, many members of the food world were shocked to learn that a member of the James Beard Awards committee, Josh Ozersky, was found dead in his Chicago hotel room, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The 47-year-old Ozersky was a food writer for Esquire magazine. Dallas chef John Tesar has a burger on his menu at Knife named after his friend Ozersky. Many members of the food community, including Tesar, have expressed their condolences at the sudden loss.