The landscape of the Austin food scene is changing, thanks to some great new restaurants. Paul Qui is one of the talented chef’s leading this culinary charge. Working as the Executive Chef of the acclaimed restaurant Uchiko, Paul has racked up a number of accolades recently with a victory on Top Chef, followed by a James Beard award. Currently, he is opening a new restaurant, Qui, to accompany his army of Asian-inspired East Side King food trucks. We asked Paul a few questions about the Austin food culture and his new restaurant, which is expected to open late May or early June.

How would you define your style and approach to cooking?
My style and approach to cooking stem from my pursuit of balance in flavor. It’s about stimulating your palate with salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami and textures.

What inspired you to start Qui?
My inspiration comes from my life experiences, which is not limited to food culture. I wanted to create a space for myself to grow with no boundaries.

What can we expect to experience at Qui?
We’re going to procure the best ingredients that we can, cook them to the best of our efforts and serve people to the best of our ability.

There is a buzz surrounding the Austin food scene right now. Why do you think that Austin food is making a name for itself?
Austin is making a name for itself because it is a very brave town. It’s about perseverance and evolution.

Since much of the city revolves around music, what have you been listening to lately?
I can be a bit all over the place, from Nas to the National to Arcade Fire to James Brown.

Architecturally, you’ve chosen ’A Parallel Architecture’ to design the building. What features were most important to you in regard to the design of your new restaurant?
I like that they work with clean lines and their designs serve practical purposes, but I think that their personalities are what sold them to me. I work off intuition quite a bit and A Parallel just felt right.

What do you see on the horizon related to the future of our food culture?
It’s going to come down to the fundamentals: flavor and technique.

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