Photo by Pamela Springsteen

Willie Nelson has earned countless awards for his seven-decade music career, but the legend is also well known for his activism — particularly in the areas of farming and food security. In recognition of his longtime advocacy work, the LBJ Foundation will present its highest honor, the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award to Nelson this spring.

The award will be presented at a special gala tribute dinner on Friday, May 12, 2023, which in turn will benefit the newly established Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, a part of The University of Texas at Austin.

According to a release, the endowment will fund research and student fellowships focused on sustainable agriculture, eliminating hunger, resilient energy, sustainable water, and natural disaster recovery to benefit rural and farm communities.

Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise funds for struggling farmers, which has since raised over $70 million for those who own and operate family farms throughout the United States. He has also helped raise millions around disaster relief, for families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and for veterans, as well as working toward environmental and animal advocacy, and voting rights. His Luck Family Foundation provides financial grant assistance and other resources to artists, organizations, and programs in need, donating proceeds from Luck Reunion events to Farm Aid and other longtime charity partners like the Texas Food & Wine Alliance.

“Willie Nelson is a national treasure who gained fame through his sheer musical talent and won hearts as someone who truly cares about the lives of his fellow Americans," says Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, via release. "A product of rural Texas, Willie has never forgotten where he comes from. His longtime efforts to raise money and awareness for family farmers through Farm Aid and numerous other endeavors to help those in need throughout his career make him a true inspiration.”

The dinner will honor Nelson's lifelong support for rural communities, embodying President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commitment to public service, particularly in the areas of farming and food security. With their similar backgrounds as rural Texans, both President Johnson and Nelson shared a keen awareness of the struggles of those who work in the agricultural industry.

“The bounty of the earth is the foundation of our economy," President Johnson shared in a 1965 Special Message to Congress on Agriculture. "Programs in every aspect of our nation’s life depend on the abundant harvests of our farms.”

Mike Stites

These 10 chefs are the rising stars of Dallas' 2023 dining scene

Awards News

Awards season has arrived with the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. It's the premiere food celebration, combining nods to top chefs and restaurants with a tasting party featuring sips and bites.

Over the next few weeks, we'll spotlight nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best bartenders to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.

We'll honor them at a celebratory party on May 4 from 7-10 pm at The Fashion Industry Gallery, with tastings and an announcement of the winners, voted on by a panel of their food & beverage peers, and emceed by F&B pro Jason Roach. Tickets to the event are already on sale, for $60 to $125 (for VIP), and can be purchased here.

While we count down to the big party, we'll get to know the nominees in an editorial series leading up to the event.

Our first installment profiles the category of Rising Star Chefs. These are the up-and-comers, the chefs who are newly established in their own kitchens or restaurants, or who've made local waves for their food.

Meet the nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Anthony Hsia - Ellie's
Executive chef at fine-dining restaurant at Hall Arts Hotel
Hsia says he began his culinary career "by accident," when he was dining at a friend's restaurant in Germany and jumped into the kitchen after a chef walked out. Before joining Ellie's as executive chef, he helped open the W Taipei, a luxury hotel in Taiwan, and has worked at The Fairmont in San Jose and Singapore, the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, and in the Catering Division for Google Headquarters.

Corrin Ellis - Tango Room
Executive chef at Design District steakhouse from Tim Headington
California native attended Xavier University of Louisiana in pre-med before switching to the food & beverage industry, working for the SBE Hospitality group of Beverly HIlls at concepts such as Cleo, a Mediterranean restaurant at the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood. After cooking at The Henry in West Hollywood, she got transferred to do the same for its sibling in Uptown Dallas. She's also punched the clock for Unco (HG Sply Co.) and for the Yardbird Group.

JP Mancha - Poco Fiasco
Executive chef at Italian restaurant from Harwood Hospitality Group
Mancha trained at Cordon Bleu and has worked with acclaimed chefs at restaurants such as Bijoux, Small Brewpub, The Cedars Social, 18th & Vine BBQ, and CT Provisions. He joined Harwood in December 2021 and has served as executive chef at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, helped reopen Dolce Riviera in May 2022, and helped launch this pizza concept, inspired by the great pizzerias of Brooklyn. He's also part of the private events team at Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens.

Justin Mosley - Meridian
Executive chef at Brazilian restaurant in The Village
Mosley is a lifelong restaurant guy who attended Cordon Bleu and honed his chops at places such as Knife Dallas and FT33, where he first worked with mentor chef and Meridian founder Junior Borges. The two worked together at Mirador, and then Meridian, where Mosley helped revamp the menu into its new fixed-price format, featuring a four-course meal in which diners can select three or four choices in each course for $73, with an optional wine pairing for $40.

Kashawn Cruell - Carbone Vino
Chef de cuisine at Italian restaurant from New York-based Major Food Group
A graduate of CUNY New York City College of Technology Hospitality Administration, this New York transplant has been working with chef Mario Carbone at his Major Food Group organization since he was 17, including The Grill, Carbone, Sadelle's, and The Parm (where he got written up by the New York Times), and now Carbone Vino in Dallas. He also helped his fiancee Paige Muller launch Boxed Bites, a charcuterie gift company.

Mike Matis - Fearing's
Chef de cuisine at renowned Ritz-Carlton Dallas restaurant from chef Dean Fearing
A native of Virginia and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Matis worked in the Washington, D.C. restaurant scene before heading overseas to serve as Sous Chef of Conte-Gouts in Lausanne, Switzerland. He also worked at Khong River House in Miami, and was previously executive chef under Chef Stephan Pyles at Stampede 66. At Fearing’s, he launched Fearing’s and Friends, a dinner series bringing in local Dallas chefs for sold-out collaborative dinners.

Mike Stites - Cry Wolf
Chef de cuisine at highly rated East Dallas restaurant from chef/owner Ross Demers
A native of Corpus Christi, Stites gained valuable life experience that included serving in the Army and selling cars before transitioning into the restaurant industry, starting with an externship from Le Cordon Bleu at SER in the Anatole. He's worked in sterling kitchens including Stephan Pyles' Flora Street, Roister in Chicago for Grant Achatz, Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty, Gemma, and Carte Blanche, before landing at Cry Wolf.

Sophia Schoenstedt - Gemma
Chef de cuisine at acclaimed American bistro on Henderson Avenue
Minnesota native was a prodigy, completing an online program with Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Certificate of Culinary Arts while still in high school. She earned an associate's degree at Minnesota State University and graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education Culinary Arts before joining Union Square Hospitality Group, working in New York and Hawaii at restaurants such as Maialino Mare and Marta. She's also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Health & Wellness coach.

Terance Jenkins - Restaurant Beatrice
Executive chef at Louisiana-inspired restaurant from chef Michelle Carpenter
New Orleans native is a sought-after consultant who started his career making gumbo at the famed Commander's Palace. He was most recently chef/owner of Bon Temps Events in Houston, and has led kitchens at AmberJax, Screen Door, and Cedars Social, as well as tenures at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Rex’s Seafood, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Whole Foods, where he oversaw composting and locavore practices, and is a member of El Centro Food and Hospitality Institute’s Hall of Fame.

Tony Ibarra - The Village - Anise
Executive chef at apartment complex restaurant installation
Ibarra grew up in El Paso, attended Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, and has worked at critical favorites such as Petra and the Beast, FT33, CBD Provisions, Small Brewpub, Proof & Pantry, and Nana.

Photo courtesy of Barber Shop Marketing

Dallas-Fort Worth International lands new honor as North America's best airport


Dallas-Fort Worth has landed near the top in several recent travel rankings, including family friendly vacations and hotels, and now the region can add best airport to that list. The Airports Council International (ACI) has named Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport the winner of the 2022 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) award for Best Airport that serves over 40 million passengers in North America.

The ACI ASQ awards recognize airports that exhibit consistent excellent customer service.

ACI's data is compiled through their worldwide passenger departure and arrival surveys. According to their report, the DFW Airport is “the largest airport in the world” to receive the award.

DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue said in a statement that it was a “tremendous honor” to be declared the best airport in North America, and the award reflects all of the hard work he and his team have done to prioritize their customer service.

“I want to thank and recognize all of our employees, especially our front-line customer experience team, for the passion and commitment they showcase every day in taking such good care of our customers,” he said. “I also want to thank all of our business partners who share our commitment to providing an excellent customer experience."

2023 looks to be one of the busiest years for the DFW Airport since 2019, with 78 million passengers projected to travel at the airport.

More information about the award can be found on the DFW Airport website.

Photo by Ashley Gongora

Celebrate Dallas' culinary all-stars at the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards

A Toast to the Tastemakers

Get ready to celebrate the stars of Dallas' restaurants and bars. The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards return this spring — and tickets are on sale now.

Join us May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.) for an evening honoring the very best of Dallas' culinary scene.

That means our signature tasting event where you'll sample special bites from this year's participating nominees and sip an array of cocktails, beer, and more. Then we'll reveal the winners in our short and sweet awards ceremony.

The Tastemaker Awards shine a spotlight on the people making the local restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Nominees and winners are determined by a panel of industry experts, including past winners — except for Best New Restaurant (more on that in a bit).

This year, we’ll award winners in all of the following categories: Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bar of the Year, Rising Star Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Brewery of the Year, Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Wine Program of the Year, Best New Restaurant, and — just to add a little sizzle — Best Burger.

You can see all of the nominees here and learn more about them in our special editorial series leading up to the big event.

At the awards ceremony on May 4, we’ll unveil the winners in each category, including the winner of Best New Restaurant, which will be determined by you in a bracket-style online tournament.

A limited number of Early Bird tickets are on sale now at discounted rates of $60 for general admission and $99 for VIP (includes early access to the event, valet, and a dedicated bar). Prices will increase April 2 (or whenever Early Bird tickets sell out). Grab your tickets now, because this party will surely sell out.


The event is brought to you by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Ellum Ranch Patio Water, Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water, and more to be announced soon. A portion of proceeds will benefit our nonprofit partner, the Harvest Project Food Rescue.

J.W. Marriott

Marriott hotel in Dallas' Arts District to open with 3 in-house restaurants

Hotel News

There's foodie news from a new hotel coming to Dallas' Arts District: The JW Marriott Dallas Arts District, scheduled to open in spring 2023, will debut with three dining venues, and an award-winning chef to oversee it all.

The hotel has appointed Jonah Friedmann as Executive Chef for the hotel’s three food and beverage outlets, which are as follows:

  • Margaret's, a three meal farm-to-table restaurant featuring an open kitchen and 30-seat bar
  • Vincent's, an outdoor lounge on the hotel’s 11th floor with views of the Dallas Arts District
  • 800 North, a coffee-to-cocktails concept in the lobby on the street level of North Harwood Street

Friedmann is a native of Chicago who attended both the Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales. He brings more than a decade of experience including tenures at hotels across the U.S. ranging from boutiques to 1,700-room hotels, most recently the Virgin Dallas.

He's been featured on NBC’s Texas Today and, most importantly, was nominated for a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards in 2022 for Rising Star Chef.

It's too early for menu details but Friedmann has a vision, which he shares in a statement.

“My vision for Margaret's menu includes modern takes on Texas favorites with a focus on experience and seasonal ingredients that make Texas cuisine unique,” he says.

He'll also oversee banquet and catering services offered in the hotel’s 10 meeting rooms, which comprise more than 22,200 square feet of flexible event space, with options for catering events large and small.

This will be the first JW Marriott in the city of Dallas. JW Marriott Hotels are the chain's the most select and significant properties.

It's from the Sam Moon Group, and is located across from First United Methodist Church, across from the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and Crow Museum of Asian Arts. It's going up on top of a parking structure, starting on the 11th floor of the property; the Moons bought air rights, which is totally cool.

It'll have 23 floors, 267 rooms, meeting and conference areas, ballrooms, fitness center, and a mid-air pool and deck with 40-foot ceilings, cabanas, and outdoor event space offering downtown views.

Photo by Taylor Prinsen Photography

3 North Texas superstars receive state's highest honor for achievement in the arts

Legendary Texans

The stars at night are always bright in Texas, but they were particularly brilliant in Austin on February 22 as some of the state's biggest superstars gathered to receive the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts.

Among them: Dallas-born actor Luke Wilson, Dallas fashion designer Lela Rose, and Weatherford's Taylor Sheridan, creator of TV's Yellowstone universe.

The biennial ceremony recognizes extraordinary achievements in the arts, with recipients representing a diverse selection of Texas cities and a range of mediums — film, fashion, music, choreography, literature, architecture, and more.

The 2023 TMAA honorees were:

  • Taylor Sheridan (Weatherford) - Film/Producer
  • Luke Wilson (Dallas) - Film/Actor
  • Lela Rose (Dallas) - Design
  • Miranda Lambert (Lindale) - Music/Songwriter
  • Christopher Cross (San Antonio) - Music
  • Deborah Roberts (Austin) - Visual Arts
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz (El Paso) - Literary Arts
  • Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine (Houston) - Arts/Health
  • Juan Miró and Miguel Rivera (Austin) - Architecture
  • Septime Webre (Brownsville) - Dance
  • In Memoriam: Carole Cook (Abilene) - Lifetime Achievement/Musical Theatre

Held at Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts, the 2023 TMAA honorees walked the red (well, purple) carpet before the event.

The ceremony, emceed by Elliott Forrest, included a special performances by Miranda Lambert, joined by Jack Ingram and Jon Randall for a selection of songs off their recent collaborative album, The Marfa Tapes.

2023 TMAA honoree Christopher Cross also performed, backed by the Barton Springs Orchestra; and previous TMAA honoree Ray Benson capped off the evening with a cover of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" for a special curtain call with the night's performers and honorees.

Wilson, who was born in Dallas and attended St. Mark's School of Texas, is best known his roles in films such as Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), My Dog Skip (2000), Legally Blonde (2001), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Idiocracy (2006), You Kill Me (2007), The Skeleton Twins (2014), Meadowland (2015) and Brad's Status (2017); and on TV, for playing Casey Kelso on That '70s Show (2002–05), Levi Callow on Enlightened (2011–13) and Pat Dugan / S.T.R.I.P.E. on Stargirl (2020–22).

Raised in Dallas, Rose's eponymous Lela Rose fashion collections are known for everything from impeccably crafted everyday separates to her sought-after wedding gowns.

Sheridan, of course, is the brains behind the TV sensationYellowstone and its acclaimed prequel 1883 (plus spinoffs 1923,1883: The Bass Reeves Story, and more). He's also creator of the hit series of Mayor of Kingstown and Oscar-nominated writer of the film Hell or High Water.

Sheridan attended Fort Worth's Paschal High School and lives with his wife, Nicole (a board member of the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame), on a Bosque Ranch in Weatherford.

Taylor Sheridan

Photo by Taylor Prinsen Photography

Taylor Sheridan (on the red carpet with wife Nicole) received the 2023 TMAA for achievement in film and production.

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Texas rises through the ranks of most innovative states, says new report


The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."

Hall Group to open new hotel in mixed-use re-do of Frisco office park

Hotel News

Frisco is getting a new hotel at one of the city's pioneering office developments: Called the Hall Park Hotel, Autograph Collection, it'll open at Hall Park, and will be part of the Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy collection.

According to a release, construction is anticipated to be complete in late 2023, with an opening set for spring 2024.

The hotel is part of the first phase of a $7 billion new masterplan to shift Hall Park from an office focus into a live-work-play community. It'll be owned by Dallas-based Hall Group, and operated by Coury Hospitality.

Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy is known for its diverse independent hotels that champion individuality.

Hall Park Hotel will feature:

  • world-class contemporary art
  • outdoor pool
  • 4,000 square-foot ballroom
  • state-of-the-art fitness center
  • chef-driven restaurant and lounge
  • expansive patio

There will be 224 guest rooms and 60 well-appointed suites, supporting both short term and longer stays, with a focus on business travelers, events, meetings, regional “staycationers,” and tourists visiting Toyota Stadium, The Star in Frisco, regional youth sports tournaments, the upcoming PGA of America complex, and Universal Studios Park.

This makes the second hotel for Hall Group, the first being the Hall Arts Hotel which opened in the Dallas Arts District in 2019; and the fifth Autograph Hotel in the DFW area (others include the Adolphus in downtown Dallas, Hotel Vin in Grapevine, the Sinclair in Fort Worth, and Hotel Drover in Fort Worth).

Coury Hospitality is based in Las Colinas, with a portfolio of more than 30 hotels and restaurants, including 10 hotels in the Autograph Collection.

“Our partnership with Autograph Collection Hotels provides the opportunity to deliver a one-of-a-kind property to the residents and visitors of Frisco that will include a museum-quality art collection and world-class food and wine offerings,” says Hall Group chairman and CEO Craig Hall. “Framed by views of the art-filled Kaleidoscope Park, which is currently underway, hotel guests will be able to experience Frisco not only as a business and sports hub but also as an emerging arts and culture destination.”

Other new developments at Hall Park include The Monarch, a 19-story, luxury apartment tower expected to open in the fourth quarter. It'll have 214 units with 29 floorplans, including eight penthouse units with oversized balconies and high-end appliances and finishes, spa-inspired master baths and park views.

Amenities include a club room with kitchen, pool, fitness center, outdoor grilling areas, yoga and meditation space, bike storage, pet washing area, and meeting space.

The base of the residential tower will hold a 10,000-square-foot eatery, slated to open in 2024, with a diverse selection of 10 unique, chef-driven restaurants.

They're also building The Tower at Hall Park, a 16-story office tower that shares a podium with the hotel and will boast multiple terraces on every suite level, outdoor amenity space, and direct park access. That tower will also include 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space facing Kaleidoscope Park. It's also forecast to open in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Dallas to give away free produce in one neighborhood every other Friday

Vegetable News

The City of Dallas’ Office of Community Care, in collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Last Patrol opens biweekly fresh produce drive at the West Dallas Multipurpose Center.

Starting today, Friday, March 24, Dallas residents can drive-thru, or walk-up to the WDMC to receive fresh produce, free of charge.
The drive thru will take place on the second and fourth Friday of each month.

Through this initiative, OCC and its partners aim to provide access to fresh food and nutritional support to more than 370,000 community members in West Dallas who are impacted by food insecurity.

“Food insecurity occurs when healthy food is not readily available daily, due to poverty or socioeconomic challenges, causing people to go hungry or eat food that is of reduced quality, variety or desirability,” said Ashley Hutto, manager of the West Dallas Multipurpose Center. “This program will support community members in improving food security and access to fresh produce in West Dallas. “

“This area within Dallas County historically has had high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Knowing and understanding the needs in this area, the American Heart Association’s North Texas Team continues to partner with the West Dallas Multipurpose Center to create more opportunities for positive impact,” said Bry Mabry, Community Impact Director of AHA. “This center is a centerpiece of the community in West Dallas and a suitable location to reach a large portion of the residents of West Dallas.”

The fresh produce distribution will be on a first come, first serve basis, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at WDMC, located at 2828 Fish Trap Rd.

There is no income or zip code requirement to participate.