San Antonio has always had a thriving culinary scene, and over the past few years it appeared to finally be getting national attention it rightly deserves. Though the global pandemic has derailed so much of the hospitality industry, it has not stripped the Alamo City of its entrepreneurial spirit.
The five hospitality pros nominated for the Tastemaker Award for Best Chef craft everything from Vietnamese cuisine to down-home barbecue brisket — and they're all best in their class. The past few months have forced some of these hospitality pros to close their doors while yet others overhaul their entire operations, but they are all continuing to provide San Antonio with their inspired fare.
Learn more about the nominees below and then tune in on Thursday, July 23 at 7 pm as we reveal the winner during our first-ever Tastemaker Awards — Virtual Edition. It's our way of celebrating the extraordinary spirit of the San Antonio restaurant and bar scene during this challenging time. A handful of tickets to the virtual event are still on sale and include a Tasting Tote featuring bites, sips, and more to enjoy at home.
Jason Dady — Range
It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about San Antonio chefs and not bring up Jason Dady’s name. Although his restaurant Range has suspended its service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dady continues to bring the great taste that has made him famous to your own home through dinner at-home prep and delivery. As a child, Dady remembers getting chased out of the kitchen every day and credits both his grandmothers, who he says were both fantastic cooks, for inspiring his passion to create glorious meals.
PJ Edwards — Meadow
Patrick “PJ” Edwards, the chef and co-owner of Meadow Neighborhood Eatery + Bar, is sort of an accidental chef. At his first job, he was involuntarily assigned to a cook position despite being hired as a busboy. A mentee of Dady, Edwards spotlights local products and seasonality, showcasing fruits, vegetables, and cattle from farmers across Central and South Texas.
Ming Qian — Ming's Thing
Looking for hot noodle soups that will feed your soul (and clean your sinuses)? Chef Ming Qian daring dishes are the talk of the town, with innovative flavors crafted from robust ingredients. Shrimp Fridays, a weekly favorite, have been reimagined under her watch, and just the mention of Shrimp Bao or Shrimp Noodle Bowl on her social media pages is enough to bring customers running.
Esaul Ramos — 2M Smokehouse
Chef Esaul Ramos is a hometown hero and the pitmaster San Antonio deserves. Though his early career led him to rotating briskets in the Capital City, Ramos eventually returned to his native San Antonio with 2M Smokehouse. Ramos is always sure to shred his pork shoulder with just the right balance of fat, lean, and bark. Even without his delicious sides of buttermilk potato salad or Borracho beans, Ramos’ cuts are heavenly, and only add to his growing reputation.
Louis Singh — Singh's
Singh's started off as a food truck before graduating to its current St. Mary’s Strip location, thanks to cuisine chef Louis Singh describes as “Vietnamese soul food.” Indeed, Vietnamese cuisine itself is just as dynamic as the history of its country’s origin, offering everything from banh mi sandwiches to fried cha gio. As a chef, it is Singh’s talent that inspires his passionate following, but it is dedication to mastering the cuisine he grew up with that puts him on the shortlist of San Antonio’s best chefs.