Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chef's Table with Josh Watkins

I absolutely loved being invited to a Chef's Table at the beautiful ATT Hotel and Conference Center on the south edge of The University of Texas campus.  I've been a long time admirer of Executive Chef Josh Watkins and followed his move from the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. I'm not the only one who notices his creativity and talent, Watkins has been on Iron Chef America and to the James Beard House in New York City, where only the country’s most innovative and talented chefs are invited to cook and share their love of food.
Our private lunch was set up in the bright Gabriel's Cafe at the hotel. I knew I was in for a treat because last time I was treated to Chef Watkins cooking I was completely blown away.

Everything at the AT&T Conference Center is "stamped" with the UT Longhorn and subtly decorated in the burnt orange that UT fans love and adore.

Here Executive Chef Josh Watkins explains each course as it comes to the table.

I kind of feel guilty for sharing this menu.... the entire meal was perfectly orchestrated and wow-ed all the luncheon guests from start to finish. I wish I also had recipes to share with you guys so you could make these amazing courses and try them yourself. Here we go:
First Course

24 Hour Tomato Salad
Jonah Crab, Petite Arugula, Basil Seeds, Black Olive Oil

Isn't this a piece of art? Executive Chef Josh Watkins brings a new dimension to simplified elegance through a blend of contemporary and classical cooking techniques.

Since the tomato had been cooked for 24 hours, its flavors were intensified and worked so nicely with the light flavors of the crab salad and arugula. My favorite parts of this plate were the black olive oil and the basil seeds.

Second Course

Cured Striped Marlin
Beet Ceviche, Pure Luck Goat Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette

My favorite part of this dish was the VERY fresh fish and the use of Pure Luck Goat Cheese. I sincerely appreciate Chef Watkins passion for farm fresh, ingredient-driven food. Pure Luck Goat Cheese from Dripping Springs, TX is one of my favorite local cheeses. 
When I thought I couldn't eat any more, THIS masterpiece was delivered to our table.

Third Course

Summer Braised Short Ribs & Hawaiian Red Snapper
Smoked Tomato, Fried Shallots, Heirloom Tomatoes, Malt Vinegar Glaze, Popcorn

Not sure I can choose a favorite part of this dish. I think the popcorn set in a thick malt vinegar reduction was odd, but it surprisingly complimented the buttery sauce on the snapper. I don't know HOW Chef Watkins put these flavors together - but it WORKED! The short ribs completely fell apart with the touch of a fork, no knife needed. This was my favorite course!


Strawberry Shortcake
Coconut Ice Cream, Lemon Zest, Fried Mint

The coconut ice cream was my favorite part of this, it was the fried mint... no, the ice cream.... It's a toss up. The Pastry Chef did a phenomenal job assembling this beautiful dessert.


  1. Beautiful meal and menu!! I have never ever seen basil seeds being eaten, how cool. Beautiful presentations, too. You're so lucky to have been present at this Chef's Table!

  2. this food looks so amazingly tasty and with quite the beautiful execution too! mouth is watering now... thx mandy! ;)


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