Philip Speer of Uchi | Austin Food & Wine Festival
Saturday of the Austin Food & Wine Festival we were able to sit in for a demo of “Classic Dessert’s” led by the extremely talented Philip Speer of Uchi Austin. From Uchi’s bio on their Executive Director of Culinary Operations, “Chef Philip Speer conceives desserts that are an anticipated finish to dinner rather than an afterthought. As a 17 year old, Speer began experimenting as a scratch baker in his hometown of Houston, Texas. Early in his career, Chef Speer gained experience by helping to open the critically acclaimed Jean-Luc’s Bistro in Austin, Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Bank in Houston and finally Seven and Starlite in Austin where he took on the task of revamping their dessert programs.
Speer left Starlite in 2005 to work at Uchi with recent James Beard Award winning Chef Tyson Cole. Combining elements of surprise and artistry with fresh ingredients are hallmarks of Speer’s approach to his craft and these techniques have garnered him awards in the Austin Chronicle, theAustin American-Statesman and Texas Monthly as well as national recognition in Bon Appetit, Cooks Illustrated and USA Today. He appeared as a judge on the Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” as well as part of Chef Tyson Cole’s team that competed on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” Speer has been named a James Beard Award semi-finalist in the overall pastry chef category for the past two years.
Speer’s talents are reinvented at Cole’s newest restaurant, Uchiko. Translated as “child of Uchi”, Uchiko opened in July 2010 to national praise, receiving honors such as Texas Monthly’s “Best New Restaurant” and one of the “Best New Restaruants 2010” by GQ. Uchiko also received James Beard Award semi-finalist nominations in the rising star chef of the year (Executive Chef Paul Qui) and best new restaurant categories.
Cole’s recently released cookbook, Uchi the Cookbook, features an entire chapter on Speer’s desserts that highlight his inventive techniques and creative uses of less traditional ingredients. While awards and recognition are greatly appreciated, Speer will tell you “at the end of the day, it’s all about my love affair with food and working at such a high caliber establishment with diverse and talented chefs.”