Food News

Chef Paul Qui Arrested in Austin: "Blood Smeared on Walls and Floors"

Chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef winner Paul Qui is a brilliant young chef who is best known for his modern Asian cuisine that takes inspiration from Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, and French culinary styles.

The Austin-based James Beard Award-winning chef, who recently opened Pao by Paul Qui at the ritzy Faena Miami Beach, was arrested Saturday morning in Austin on charges of "unlawful restraint" and "assault causing bodily injury to a family member."

KXAN television broke the story, and New Times' sister publication Houston Press provided further coverage.
According to the arrest affidavit, Qui was taken into custody at 7:46 a.m. March 19 after Austin police responded to a disturbance-with-violence call that suggested that a male and female couple was fighting inside the apartment and breaking things and yelling.

Upon entering the apartment, officers found it "in complete disarray and furniture and glass were broken and/or turned over throughout the apartment." The officers also observed blood smeared on the walls and floors. 

According to the affidavit, Qui's live-in girlfriend of eight months, Stephanie Rodriguez, told police that "Qui is very controlling and extremely jealous. She stated that Qui had some friends over tonight and they were all indulging in cocaine, Xanax, marijuana, and alcohol." Rodriguez was asleep with her son when Qui arrived home with friends. "Qui wanted her to get up and join in the partying. Rodriguez stated that she got up and had a couple drinks. Rodriguez added that Qui was intoxicated and he became increasingly jealous and started accusing his friends of flirting with her and enticing her into having group sex."

Qui then allegedly kicked his friends out of the apartment, leaving himself alone with Rodriguez and her son. Qui then "became enraged and started knocking over furniture, shelves, tables, and breaking glass all over the apartment." When Rodriguez tried to exit the apartment with her son, Qui blocked her path, "forcibly pushing her away from the door or pushing her on to the floor."
Qui was released on bail the same day. According to the arrest affidavit, bond was set at $5,000 by the Magistrate Court of Travis County, Texas.

Qui later issued a statement to saying he would seek treatment:
“On Saturday morning, I asked my friend to call the police to aid in an argument with my girlfriend that had escalated beyond my control. I was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors. I am innocent of the charge of assault. This situation made me realize that I need to take more time for my health and myself. I will be checking myself into a treatment facility in the coming days, and I am appreciative of the support of my family, friends and partners. Thank you for respecting my privacy.”
Qui won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2012 while at Uchiko in Austin. He also won Top Chef season nine. In December 2015, Qui opened Pao by Paul Qui at the Faena, which features both modern Asian cuisine and a golden unicorn sculpted by Damien Hirst.

The 35-year-old chef also has a history of drug abuse. In an essay published in Vice titled "How I Went From Being a Terrible Drug Dealer to Top Chef," Qui states he sold drugs as an art major in college. 

A message on the website of Qui's Austin restaurant, Qui Austin, stated the restaurant was closed yesterday, though there's no word that the closure is related to the incident. Qui's Miami Beach restaurant remains open.

New Times has reached out to Qui's publicist and will update this story with any further information. 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss