This past week Southern Living came out with its 2015 list of 50 people changing the South, and Texas is well-represented. These folks — from writers to chefs to anthropologists to musicians — are “shaping the South with community-minded ideas and projects,” according to the magazine.
Malcolm Gage and Cordey Lash of Ophelia’s Soul Food get DFW’s only nod. Their restaurant at Collin Creek Mall in Plano provides hearty food without all of the excess fat and calories, making us rethink food-court dining. Winners of Food Network’s Food Court Wars, the team uses fresh ingredients and lighter substitutes for health-conscious renditions of Southern classics such as chicken and waffles, peach cobbler, and fried fish dishes. Goals for the guys are to open additional Ophelia’s outposts and publish a cookbook.
Ryan Butler and Ben Runkle of Salt & Time Butcher out of Austin also landed on the list. Specialty butcher shops are having a moment, SL notes, but these guys take it a step further, with basic butchery, curing and sausage-making classes. Starting this month, fans can sign up to get monthly provisions delivered right to their doorsteps. Now that’s a subscription box we fully support.
Also from Austin, former SL editor Taylor Bruce made the list for his Wildsam Field Guide series. The pocket-size travel guides — so far for Nashville, Austin, San Francisco, Detroit and New Orleans — are told through the people who call these places home. He will publish at least four more this year — for Brooklyn, Charleston, San Antonio and Los Angeles — as well as launch a new website.
Houston’s Bobby Heugel and his Clumsy Butcher caught Southern Living’s attention for putting “Texas cocktails on the map when he opened Anvil Bar & Refuge in 2009.” Look out for his site (coming soon) that offers bartenders candid advice about opening a bar. There are also talks for new locales and a cocktail book in 2015.
Artist Rick Lowe secured a spot on the list for his Project Row Houses in Houston, which transformed 22 shotgun houses in the city’s Third Ward. Described as part art project, part community revitalization, this program includes “arts education, organic gardening programs, and partnerships with local architects and artists to preserve one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods.” Lowe also was the Nasher Sculpture Center’s first artist-in-residence and a recent recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant.
Bailey Quin of Houston — the lone Texas gal on this list — received praise for perfecting the home boutique. Biscuit Home, which also is a design studio with its own bedding line, has grown from 1,200 to 10,000 square feet in two years. Quin, who formerly focused on bespoke bed linens, will introduce pajamas and quilts to her mix in 2015.
PJ Stoops returned to Texas in 2006, after living in France and Thailand, and forever changed the way his home state serves seafood. The go-to guy for fresh fish for top Houston restaurants such as Reef and Feast, Stoops was bothered by the tons of bycatch that got thrown back into the ocean — dead or alive — and convinced H-Town chefs to incorporate it into their dishes. This spring, Stoops, a chef by training, will open his first restaurant, Foreign Correspondents, which is a tribute to the foods he cooked and loved while living in Thailand.
Read all about more Southern movers-and-shakers here.