Paul Qui (born August 14, 1980) is a Texas-based Top Chef winner and James Beard award recipient. He operates restaurants East Side King (Austin), Thai Kuhn (Austin) and Pao (Miami).

In 2011, he won the ninth season of reality television cooking competition Top Chef. Qui is also a winner of the James Beard Award.[1][2]


Paul Qui was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to the United States as a child.[3] He attended high school in Springfield, Virginia[4] and completed his culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas.[5] His initial forays into cooking professionally led to a job with Tyson Cole, chef/owner of Uchi and Uchiko restaurants in Austin. During his time in the kitchen, Cole became Qui's mentor, and Qui eventually worked his way up to become the chef de cuisine and executive chef at Uchiko.[6]

Qui was one of 29 contestants who appeared on Top Chef Season 9 in 2011, which was filmed in locations around Texas. He won eight of the season's 16 elimination challenges and went on to win the entire season. Tom Colicchio, the head judge of Top Chef, said that Qui was the most talented chef in the first 12 seasons of the show.[7]

Following his win, he returned to Austin and opened his flagship restaurant, Qui, and a venture called East Side King, which showcases various Japanese-inspired dishes via food trucks with business partner Moto Utsunomiya.[8] Another of Qui's restaurants, Thai Kun, was recognized by Bon Appétit magazine as one of the best restaurants in America in 2014.[9] In 2016, Qui opened Pao by Paul Qui at Faena Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.[10] In 2018, his new Houston restaurant Aqui received a rare four-star review from the Houston Chronicle, but it closed at the end of the year amidst controversy.[11]

In 2016, Qui was charged with assaulting his then-girlfriend while intoxicated,[12] charges that were dropped in 2018.[13]

Qui opened an Asian-fusion restaurant in Dallas called TacQui in May 2018, but it closed just six months later.[14]

In March 2019, Qui announced the opening of a second location of East Side King in Denver, Colo. inside the food hall Avanti Food & Beverage. However within a days of the announcement, Avanti owners opted to cut ties with Qui amid continued controversy over his 2016 assault arrest.[15]

Awards and accolades

In addition to his win on Top Chef, Paul Qui also has earned the following awards:


  1. ^ "Paul Qui". Bravo TV Official Site. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  2. ^ "Uchiko's Paul Qui nabs the James Beard Award: Another Austin win". CultureMap Austin. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  3. ^ "How I Went from Being a Terrible Drug Dealer to Top Chef". MUNCHIES: Food by VICE. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  4. ^ "Paul Qui | TRIBEZA Austin Magazine". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  5. ^ "Paul Qui". Bravo TV Official Site. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  6. ^ "How I Went from Being a Terrible Drug Dealer to Top Chef". MUNCHIES: Food by VICE. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  7. ^ "WATCH: Tom Colicchio Picks 'Top Chef's Most Talented Contestant". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  8. ^ "Paul Qui | Austin Food + Wine Festival | April 22–24, 2016 - Austin, TX". Austin Food + Wine Festival. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  9. ^ Knowlton, Andrew (August 19, 2014). "The Hot 10 2014: Thai-Kun, Austin, TX (No. 8)". Bon Appétit.
  10. ^ Hamersly, Kendall (February 18, 2016). "Restaurant review: Pao! Paul Qui strikes gold at Faena Miami Beach". Miami Herald.
  11. ^ Morago, Greg (December 4, 2018). "Paul Qui's Aqui restaurant to close Dec. 23". Houston Chronicle.
  12. ^ "'Top Chef' winner Paul Qui charged with assault after alleged cocaine use, fight with girlfriend". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  13. ^ Nadia Chaudhury (April 27, 2018). "Chef Paul Qui's Criminal Charges Are Being Dismissed".
  14. ^ "Taco shop TacQui closed in Richardson". Dallas News. 2018-11-07. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  15. ^ "Denver food hall Avanti will not add restaurant from "Top Chef" winner who faced assault charges". The Denver Post. 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  16. ^ "The Best New Restaurants of 2014 and Other Tasty Awards". Esquire. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  17. ^ "James Beard Foundation". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  18. ^ "Meet the 2014 F&W Best New Chefs". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  19. ^ "Paul Qui Wins S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup 2013". Eater. Retrieved 2016-02-01.