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Chef Mathew Peters Elevates Fine Dining in Austin with Prélude

Sophisticated reservation-only lounge to serve cocktail and canapés from renowned chef

(photo by Jessica Attie)

Seven years after his win at the Bocuse d’Or, a biannual French competition often touted as the Olympics of the culinary world, Chef Mathew Peters is still the only U.S.-born gold medalist in the history of the competition. Since 2017, he’s been planting roots in Austin, consulting and working as a private chef, while developing a response to the question, “What next?” His answer arrives with the opening of Prélude, a cocktail and canapé bar located at 707 West 10th St. 

Chef Mathew Peters (photo by Jessica Attie)

Mentored by Thomas Keller, who Peters worked for at Michelin-starred establishments French Laundry and Per Se, Peters was also nurtured also by his time spent at Alain Ducasse’s Adour in NYC. Now, the chef forges a vision in Texas’ capital city with no less ambition than he had going into the Bocuse. Peters recently discussed earning attention from the same organization that starred Keller’s and Ducasse’s restaurants. 

“The conversation of Michelin stars has been heightened, specifically lately,” said Peters. “We’re excited for that, hopefully, to transition here sometime soon. The goal is to add one of those to the city, to the state… But I think the main goal is to put out the best product that we possibly can without overreaching the comfort of our guests.” 

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(photo by Jessica Attie)

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(photo by Jessica Attie)

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(photo by Jessica Attie)

Prélude’s menu of canapés is subject to change leading up to the opening, as Peters settles on final favorites and works with the seasonal availability of ingredients. The current iteration includes hors d’oeuvres with beloved food staples such as tacos, tots, and even spinach artichoke dip. Meant as familiar and playful touchpoints for guests, without strict rules of interpretation, the tots are actually panisse, a food with roots in Southern France, and served with pistachio dukkah and aji amarillo. The tacos are citrus-cured hamachi in a sesame “cornet.” 

“As a family, my wife and I love going to Bartlett’s and having the spinach dip,” said Peters, explaining his preference for soulful, inviting spaces offering food “cooked from the heart.” 

“Being in the industry for as long as I have, the smoke and mirror game is widely used,” explained Peters. “It’s really great to get a dish that is simply stated, but you can tell that there’s a lot of attention to detail based on the execution and general warmth of the dish.” 

On a recent night at Prélude, Chef Peters worked alongside Sterling Ridings, previously the executive chef at Uchiko, to prepare canapés for a photo shoot. After cleanly sabering a bottle of champagne on the back lawn, Peters plated morsels including the masa gougeres, piled with a bright red slick of guajillo pepper sauce, caviar-like finger lime, and green lime zest. A standout bite was the Murder Point oysters, layered in cocktail sauce and pickled celery.

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(photo by Wen Fitzgerald)

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(photo by Wen Fitzgerald)

Prélude’s setting offers a dark but rich space of velvety fabrics, barroom-coffered ceilings. and elegant wainscotting. Golden accents and floral motifs interplay with a series of figurative lenticular prints by Gary James McQueen.

Soon, Peters’ extensive collection of books by and for chefs will find a new home, at least in part, in an upstairs bourbon room, for visitors to enjoy. Mathew Peters’ full-service restaurant, Maven, will also be located upstairs. Eager to move past fine dining’s reputation for stuffy formality to focus on epicurean joys, Peters points to his cocktail and canapé bar as a herald of things to come. For now, guests can look forward to the overtures made towards surprisingly fresh and elevated takes on modern classics in the relaxed and unpretentious space that is Prélude. 

First access to reservations for Prélude are being offered to those who sign up for their email list, which you can do at www.prelude-austin.com.