As recognition for bringing a taste of Torreón Coahuila, Mexico to the capital city, chef Fermín Nuñez of East Austin Mexican restaurant Suerte has been named one of FOOD & WINE's 2021 "Best New Chefs."
Coming in as the only Texas-based chef on the 33-year-running list, Nuñez will be awarded today in Aspen, Colorado, with nine other chefs from across the country who made it through the lengthy selection process.
"It's a true joy to be named a FOOD & WINE 'Best New Chef,'" Nuñez said in a press release. "I celebrate this as an honor to the craft I love and extend immeasurable gratitude to the team at Suerte."
Nationally renowned for its commitment to craft-made masa dishes, Suerte, 1800 E. 6th St., is the manifestation of 12-year chef Nuñez and fellow restaurateur Sam Hellman-Mass. The pair opened the restaurant in 2018 with a goal to create their own unique brand of Mexican food—one that is familiar to Austin but cooked with deep-rooted tradition.
With a profound love for masa, a trait he gets from his hometown, Nuñez uses a process called nixtamalization, which prepares dried corn kernels to be ground into dough for tortillas. Those corn tortillas, which are ground in-house and pressed-to-order, earned Nuñez features in Netflix's "The Taco Chronicles," Bon Appetit's "Brad Makes Tortillas" and The New York Times.
"Mexican food, to me, was always something that I was very passionate about because it meant something to me, and a tortilla—it's the canvas of Mexican cooking," Nuñez said.
Committed to the community as well as the craft, Nuñez has been in the kitchens of many beloved Austin establishments—La Condesa, Uchiko, Launderette and Barley Swine—and strives to support local by sourcing from Barton Springs Mill and other local farmers.
"This achievement is a testament to the importance and impact of hard work, and doing the right thing even when no one is looking," Nuñez said. "I take great pride in sharing my culture through food in new ways with our community."
And it doesn't stop in the kitchen, Nuñez has used his platform of more than 30,000 followers to raise awareness and funds for mental health in the service industry through the Mike & Sherry Project, cultivate leadership efforts through community farming with Urban Roots, and empower Latino voters through Jolt.
Suerte's menu fluctuates daily so no matter when you pay a visit to Nuñez, you'll be in for a delicious surprise.
East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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