Jorge Hernandez, chef de cuisine at Qui, penned an op-ed for the Statesman over the weekend reflecting on how to balance innovation with cost within the world of high-end dining in Austin. This comes on the heels of the closures of Congress and laV, two celebrated but ultimately doomed fine dining establishments that both shuttered at the end of 2015. In his op-ed, Hernandez is circumspect about how the dining community can raise the bar without alienating value-conscious diners. Here are the eight lines that best illustrate his argument.
1) On why he originally defended Congress specifically and tasting menus in general: "I wanted all of the effort we put forth to have value and meaning."
2) On identifying the problem faced by high-end dining in Austin: "How do we convince ourselves to invest that much into something as mundane as dinner?"
3) On what the real problem is: "What I really wanted to defend is the development of a community that is willing to invest in its food and its dining experiences."
4) On why this shouldn’t be a problem in a place like Austin: "We are a town of advanced technology, of lauded higher education, of progressive art form."
5) On why fine dining should be accessible to all diners: "[E]veryone deserves to have a chef write a menu just for them."
6) On Qui’s new approach to tasting menus: "[I]nstead of making the tasting menus more expensive, we will make them more of a value […] In effect, we want to reward you for trusting us and our menu."
7) On what he doesn’t want to see next year: "I do not want to regret a lack of collaboration or community built around the Austin dining scene."
8) On issuing a challenge: "Restaurants can be more."