Paul Qui, My New Top Chef Crush

Good bye, Dale Talde. And hello, Paul Qui. This Austin based “chef-testant” is competing on the current ninth season of Top Chef and I’m already rooting for him to win the final prize. Don’t get me wrong: it was hard to pick a chef favorite–especially with so many other Asian Americans competing. (Yes, I discriminate like that when it comes to reality TV shows.)

There’s the awesome-goatee-rocking Edward Lee who reminds me of my Asian American studies professor from college, the competitive Nyesha Arrington (her grandmother is Korean) and Beverly Kim, the seemingly meek chef who likes to cry in almost every episode. Get it together, girl. You’re not doing much to break stereotypes about quiet, submissive Asian girls. So why did I pick Paul?

Aside from the fact that he’s cute, the Phillipines-born chef also puts together dishes for Quickfire Challenges and Elimination Challenges pleasing enough for the judges to give him the win three times. He took a rewarding risk by making a chilled coconut soup with the infamous ghost pepper relish, roasted brussel sprouts for a dinner party and cooked up all sorts of bacon from a Twitter competition. I don’t think any other chef has won as much as he had in this season so far. Also, anyone who can make brussel sprouts into a winning appetizing also wins my heart (and pants).

Unlike Talde, Qui hasn’t shown any signs of the expected “angry Asian guy rage” when it comes to messing up a challenge or a dish. I’m always for upping the drama on television but Qui is so calm and genuine in comparison. But don’t think he hasn’t been a bad boy. In this past week, he revealed what led him to his current culinary career: he used to sell weed but after his apartment was trashed (I guess from really hungry stoners?), he decided to leave the drug dealing world and move to Austin to start over. And yes, the show included a photograph of Qui in his younger, gangsta days with what kind a looked like a souped up Honda, straight out of K-town. Aww yeah.

Paul Qui is currently the Executive Chef of Uchiko in Austin (both he and his restaurant were named finalists in Austin Eater’s 2011 awards), cooks with inspiration from his Filipino background, takes care of his knives like they were his babies and hopefully (fingers crossed) will be this year’s Top Chef winner.

So who are you rooting for this season?

[Photo courtesy of Texas Monthly]

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About Moye

I am a Japanese-American girl who was born, raised and is most probably stuck in traffic right this second in Los Angeles. I'm currently one of the co-editors of 8Asians and like to distract myself with good food, reading long books, playing video games, catching up on celebrity news, choosing my new new haircut and then writing all about it on Hello Moye and sometimes here on Twitter if I can get it in under 140 words or less. You can reach me at moye[at]
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