Witnessing hard work pay off can be just as rewarding as personally being on the receiving end of the reward. That’s why I did not want to waste another moment to talk about my client chef Steve McHugh, who I am also so fortunate to call a friend along with his wife Sylvia. Steve is chef-owner of Cured at Pearl in San Antonio, Texas and he has received two well-deserved accolades this past week. I am proud to share that he just got word from The James Beard Foundation that he was nominated for the award of “Best Chef Southwest”. While we revel in this grand achievement for Steve, we also acknowledge a more of-the-moment accomplishment: him being crowned winner of the 7th annual Paella Challenge on Sunday, March 13, where he competed against 29 other chefs from across the United States and Mexico!
I have known Steve over 15 years now – we met when I was representing John Besh back in 1998, who I would go on to work with for 12 years. During this time, Steve was the constant rock for John as he went from Chef de Cuisine at August, for 10 years, to growing with John’s empire as he expanded his own knowledge and experience. We were all at the top of our game and there was nothing we could not accomplish. Steve was eager and always remained trusting, loyal, and passionate with a keen sensibility. His approach with everything was real and respectful. Then the unfortunate news came that he had Lymphoma — he had CANCER. How could life treat someone like Steve so unkindly? However, as the saying goes, “with every door that closes, another one opens,” and it could not hold more true for Steve McHugh.
Steve honors life with grace and reminds us not to take it all too seriously, but rather to enjoy it to the fullest. The same can be said of the James Beard Foundation, created in tribute to the prolific culinary icon, chef, author, and teacher. Their annual awards celebrate excellence in cuisine, culinary writing and education in the United States and this nomination could not go to a more deserving member of the community!
Cured is a restaurant that rose out of the ashes of a trying time – McHugh’s own battle with cancer, and his subsequent victory over the disease. Today, Steve himself is cured, and the restaurant is a gathering place built on a foundation of lovingly handcrafted cured foods, from his nationally known charcuterie that graces the front open glass case to the colorful array of pickled vegetables that add a decorative touch to the wall.
Needless to say, it’s been quite the week for Chef McHugh and Cured. See the savory sweep from start to finish for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezOFE5b-uCo