Top Chef Season 9 Winner Paul Qui has been having a great year. The Philippines-born chef was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2014 Best New Chefs and is now the chef/ proprietor at Qui restaurant and East Side King, a group of food trailers and restaurants, in Austin, Texas. Oh yes, and he’s literally sailing to Alaska right now aboard the Celebrity Solstice, as part of the Top Chef At Sea program.
Trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine, Qui takes a modernist approach towards food and enjoys adapting traditional Japanese dishes by incorporating South East Asian and European influences with an eye towards local flavor. We recently caught up with the James Beard Foundation Award-winner to dig deeper into his influences.
If you were stuck on an island with three ingredients, what would you choose and why?
I would choose chickens, yuzu and soy sauce. I can pretty much eat anything with soy sauce, I love citrus and chicken is just so versatile.
What part of the world inspires your cuisine? What country would you like to travel to and why?
Texas and Asia. I’d like to travel to China to explore the diversity of its cuisine and to understand the foundation of all of Asia’s cuisine.
If you could open a restaurant with a Top Chef contestant from another season, who would you choose?
I would choose Sheldon. I think we could develop some amazing Filipino food together.
If you were not a chef, what would you be doing right now?
I would be traveling the world eating.
Who inspired your love of food?
My family is my biggest inspiration of why I love food. Family and food go hand in hand in Filipino culture.