It’s one thing to have a picnic at Schlitterbahn, it’s a whole other thing to have it packed by professional, award-winning chefs with great ingredients from HEB. Here are the backgrounds of the great chefs we have participating in our first Ice Chest Challenge (we will be posting their lists of items after the challenge on the 23rd):

 

Matthew Boutte, Huisache Grill

Born in New Orleans, Boutte went to University of New Orleans for psychology. While in college he worked in restaurants and discover he had knack for it. Switching gears, Boutte decided to peruse a culinary career. He started out working at what was the best restaurant in New Orleans “Commanders Palace.” Boutte started in the panty and worked his way up to lead line cook in two years. He learned all he could there and moved on to more restaurants, determined to learn as he went.

He has worked in Portland, coming to the attention of the monthly regional news letter from Charlies Produce in Portland as the featured chef, and has been the guest Chef speaker on Eating out in the Northwest. Boutte also participated at the “Portland Bite,” “Taste of the Nation Portland,” “Leonetti Wine Dinner,” and did food demonstrations at “Bam on the Beach” with Emeril Lagasse.

While in Portland, Boutte worked at Portland City Grill in downtown Portland at the Unico US Bank Tower on the 30th floor as the Sous Chef. This restaurant was in the top ten busiest restaurants privately owned in the country.

Boutte is now the Chef at Huisache Grill in New Braunfels, Texas.

 

Author and Chef David Gilbert Bio, Tuk Tuk Taproom.

That’s Dave, on the left.

Raised in Dallas, 35 year old Executive Chef David Gilbert credits his family with first inspiring his love for cooking – Gilbert’s grandfather owned a butcher shop and taught him to cook with simple seasonings and the freshest ingredients. Gilbert enrolled in the culinary arts program at Johnson and Wales University where he worked to master his technique.

After graduating in 1997, Gilbert moved to Europe and landed a spot at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Vermeer in Amsterdam with Edwin Katz. In 1999, Gilbert returned to the U.S. to further his techniques at The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta, atThe Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, as Executive Sous at The Orient Express’s, and at The Inn at Perry Cabin, where Gilbert became known for initiating a fresh farmer’s market menu. In 2000, he won a bronze medal for his cooking at the Chaine des Rotisseurs junior commis competition; in 2001 he took home the silver in 2002. Gilbert was the proud recipient of the national 2007 Rising Star Chef award from Starchefs.com.

Gilbert decided to take a year away from the stove in 2009 and seek out new ingredients and techniques from around the globe, his travels took him through South East Asia, Southern Africa, and Europe writing about it on his website www.beyondthekitchen.com. In 2010 Gilbert was hand selected to be the Executive Chef to represent United States on a global platform at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. There he showcased the movement in what he calls Modern American Cuisine.

Chef Gilbert was chosen by Chef Stephan Pyles to helm the state-of-the-art kitchen at the new Hotel Eilan Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas. Gilbert has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation with a Best Chef nomination and made Antoinette Bruno’s Top Ten dishes of the year list.

In between traveling around the world Chef Gilbert has completed his first book Kitchen Vagabond which is now available through international retailers. Chef David Gilbert has taken his passion for Southeast Asian street food and partnered with craft beer guru Steve Newman. With their obsessions united they bring this first ever concept they call Tuk Tuk Taproom.

 

Executive Chef Josh Watkins

Executive Chef Josh Watkins brings a new dimension to simplified elegance through a unique combination of ingredients and a blend of contemporary and classical cooking techniques. Though a native Austinite, Watkins went to school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. His time in San Francisco included being a part of one of Reed Heron’s restaurant openings after another, Rose Pistola, earned the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award. Inspired by the wealth of high quality, fresh, local produce and seafood San Francisco had to offer, Watkins decided to bring the same elevated dining experience back home.

Returning to Texas, Watkins first worked under Chef William Koval at the French Room in the Adolphus Hotel, nationally recognized as the best restaurant in Dallas by publications such as The New York Times and Bon Appétit magazine.

Making the move back to Austin, Watkins joined the culinary team at the historic Driskill Grill under the tutelage of nationally acclaimed chef David Bull.

By the age of 23, Watkins earned the Chef de Cuisine position and later made an appearance on Food Network’s Iron Chef America alongside Bull where they battled celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He also accompanied Chef Bull to the James Beard House in New York City and the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. In 2007, Watkins was named executive chef of the Driskill Grill and earned the establishment a consecutive five-star rating.

Chef Watkins’ passion for farm fresh, ingredient-driven food led him to open The Carillon Restaurant at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in June of 2008. His unique approach to traditional foods and emphasis on using local, sustainable ingredients has caught the attention of food critics across the state, including the Austin American Statesman’s respected food critic, Mike Sutter. Sutter gave the restaurant a well-earned four-star rating.