Ever since I met Top Chef season 9 champ Paul Qui and his fashionista publicist and fiancé Deana Saukam at a runway show earlier this year, I’ve been dying to see how these two food-industry powerhouses entertain in their off-hours. In a testament to Paul’s total lack of “media star” behavior and endearing modesty, they dove headfirst into planning a holiday get-together for us at their downtown Austin loft, inviting our team to capture the entire process from start to finish. I almost couldn’t believe that they managed to squeeze it in between near-constant travel and preparing for the opening of East Side King’s first brick-and-mortar space the following week, but they did it with aplomb, starting the day by gathering ingredients at the farmer’s market and sipping champagne as they prepped for guests. Click through the images shot by Chelsea Fullerton for all the details, and stop by later this afternoon for the incredible video that brings the entire day to life.
Those who tuned in to Paul’s season of Top Chef know that he’s the master of turning simple ingredients into something spectacular, and those of us who are lucky enough to eat his food here in Austin can testify to the fact that his modernist cuisine is both unexpected and undeniably delicious. I’ve loved getting to know his fiancé Deana over the last couple of months, too. Her boundless energy and positivity make her one of those people who everyone loves to be around…and someone whose parties you’d never want to miss. See how they answered our Entertaining With interview Q’s…
Always in our refrigerator:
Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water, water, & iced tea (we travel a lot, so we don’t keep a ton of food stocked in the fridge most of the time.)
Paul had spent the day training his staff at East Side King at Hole in the Wall, and he brought home a leg of Spanish jamón to add to the spoils from his morning stop at the farmer’s market. He put it all together in the ultimate charcuterie board that let the simple beauty of seasonal ingredients take center stage. And believe me when I say – that ham was like buttah…
While he cooked, Paul extolled the virtues of simplicity. When working with great ingredients, he likes to add just “a little olive oil, a little salt.” When I grilled him on his favorite salt (because I’m kind of a fanatic) he brought up La Baleine for every day salt, and Maldon, Fleur de Sel and Truffle Salt for finishing dishes.
These duck breasts were quick-cured and roasted.
My signature entertaining dish:
D: Anything Paul’s cooking, and anything I’m baking!
P: Whatever is seasonal.
My standard host / hostess outfit:
D: A showstopping dress. Tonight it’s red sequins and Margiela heels for the holiday party!
P: Jeans and a t-shirt
The taste we’re always craving:
For the charcuterie board, Paul roasted sunchokes and turnips, along with this “romanesco”…um, is that a new cruciferous vegetable for anyone besides me?
The restaurant meal I’ll never forget:
D: Noma in Copenhagen and Jiro in Tokyo
P: Ryugin in Tokyo
Click here to get the recipe for Deana’s Grand Raspberry Trifle
*adapted from Martha Stewart
Our must have entertaining tool:
Tonight’s party guests?
A varied mix of restaurant industry people, musicians and friends… the more the merrier!
Chatham Artillery Punch
*made by Paul & Deana’s friend Ben Craven
- 8 lemons
- 1 pound superfine sugar
- 1 pint green tea
- 1 pint orange juice
- 750-milliliter bottle Cognac
- 3 bottles Champagne or other sparkling wine
- 750-milliliter bottle dark Jamaican rum
- Squeeze and strain lemons to make 16 ounces of juice. Peel lemons and muddle peels with sugar. Let peels and sugar sit for an hour, then muddle again. Add lemon juice and stir until sugar has dissolved. Strain out peels.
- Fill a large bucket or bowl with crushed ice or ice cubes. Add the lemon-sugar mixture, cognac and rum. Stir and add champagne. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Grate nutmeg over the top and serve.
Deana’s favorite thing that Paul cooks:
Beef tongue sushi.
Paul’s late-night food fix:
Thai kitchen…it stays open until 1am, which is rare in Austin.
Our perfect dinner party playlist includes:
Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac, Kanye West
My dream dinner guests:
D: Nathan Myhrvold, Thom Yorke, Bill Murray, Karl Lagerfeld, Ferran Adria
P: José Andrés
Paul’s cooking staple:
Fish sauce, used to add a savory complexity to dishes, not a fishy flavor.
Favorite piece of kitchen equipment:
My entertaining style in 5 words or less:
D: eat drink laugh have fun
Head over to Go Forth Creative to view more of Chelsea’s work.
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