Classic Cafe’s Charles Youts Advances to Top Chef Finals

Chef Charles Youts of the Classic Cafe at Roanoke advanced Thursday night to the Finals in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine’s 2012 Top Chef Challenge. Chef Youts competes for the ultimate title of Top Chef on Thurs., Aug. 2; the Final Round will be hosted by Chef Tim Love from the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro at Cendera Center in Fort Worth. Other chefs competing for the Top Chef title are Chef Anthony Frelli of Del Frisco’s, Chef Eric Hunter of Fire Oak Grill, and Chef Blaine Staniford of Grace.

“This is a truly talented group of chefs, and I am excited to compete in the final round,” said Chef Charles Youts. “The Fort Worth culinary tradition incorporates so many different flavors and styles, but it really relies on fresh, local ingredients. Each of us has a different approach, but we all create amazing food – I am excited to see what we all put forward on Aug. 2.”

The competition is sponsored by Fort Worth, Texas Magazine, which offers notable news and commentary about the arts, cuisine, entertainment, and culture in the greater Fort Worth area.

Chef Youts earned his spot in the Finals at the July 12 preliminary round, hosted by Texas Appliance, by creating a dish of striped bass with an ancho chile-and-pineapple infusion and bacon-fried potatoes. The entree displayed not only his expert culinary techniques but also his talent for crafting delicious food with fresh, available ingredients. In fact, Chef Youts regularly incorporates into his dishes ingredients from local farmers and ranchers and the Classic Cafe’s own organic back-yard garden.

Chef Charles Youts works with mystery ingredients at the Preliminary Round of the Top Chef Challenge.
Chef Charles Youts works with mystery ingredients at the Preliminary Round of the Top Chef Challenge.

Fort Worth-area restaurant fans voted to determine which chefs would participate in the preliminary rounds of the contest.

For Chef Youts, competition has been a major component of 2012. As the Chef-Mentor of the Byron Nelson High School Academy of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, he devoted considerable time this year to helping the school’s competitive teams create menus, recipes, and business plans.

“The students are truly inspiring,” said Chef Youts of his national champion team. “Northwest ISD gives them an incredible platform on which to build their career goals, including a state-of-the-art facility and the insight of Facilitator Chef Steve DeShazo. These kids took these gifts and used them to create a remarkable menu and an incredible concept.”

Chef Youts added that his students have been tremendous supporters of his efforts throughout the Top Chef Challenge.

“It is a little bit of a turnaround – during their competitive season, I was always talking with them and working with them to ensure their success,” he said. “Now that I am the one competing, I really see their professionalism in their comments and enthusiasm. I always knew this was a talented group, but their knowledge and encouragement gives me even more reason to be proud. We are a little off the beaten path here in Roanoke, but we are definitely building a tradition of culinary excellence.”

The Classic Cafe at Roanoke offers a fine-dining experience in a charming, historic location – the former local dairy and military barracks. Coming up on its 20th anniversary, the Classic Cafe was founded in 1993 by restaurateur brothers Chris and Curtis Wells. Since its establishment, the Classic Cafe has become known throughout the Dallas and Fort Worth area for its novel cuisine, excellent service, and fresh, local ingredients. For more information, visit or call 817-430-8185.