Top Austin chef gets 10 days jail, 7 years’ probation for fourth DWI


A top Austin chef who caused a natural gas leak when he flipped his car in a crash last year will have to serve 10 days in jail and seven years probation after he pleaded guilty this week to driving while intoxicated.

Philip Speer, the former director of culinary operations at Uchi, one of the city’s premier restaurants, faces up to 10 years in prison should he violate any of the conditions of his community supervision for his fourth DWI conviction since 1999. His latest charge was a third-degree felony.

Speer, 38, must turn himself in on Friday to the Travis County Jail, according to court records filed Monday. He has been ordered to undergo counseling, a DWI offender program and aftercare treatment for a year, and will be required to wear a SCRAM device to monitor his blood-alcohol level for the next six months.

His probation records show he also is to install an ignition interlock in his car.

Calls to prosecutors and his defense lawyers were not returned Thursday.

Police found the overturned Mazda that Speer told officers he was driving around 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 10, 2014, at the intersection of East Anderson Lane and Cameron Road in Northeast Austin. The car had veered off the road and hit a gas main at the curb. A witness said he saw the driver, later identified as Speer, running toward a parking lot.

Speer, who officers spotted lying in a grassy area in soiled clothing and smelling strongly of alcohol, told police he had been driving from a bar on Fifth Street where he had three drinks. He refused to perform a field sobriety test but told authorities several times that he was drunk, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The Houston native, who has worked in Austin restaurants on and off for at least 14 years, resigned in January from the Uchi Restaurant Group. The two-time James Beard Award semifinalist served as the prestigious restaurant group’s director of culinary operations and executive pastry chef, joining executive chef Tyson Cole’s team in 2005. He previously worked at Jean-Luc’s Bistro, Seven and Starlite in Austin, and at chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Bank in Houston.

Just before his arrest, Speer had led the opening of the restaurant group’s most recent restaurant, St. Philip Pizza Parlor + Bake Shop, which opened in October. But Speer took a leave of absence from the group in mid-October after he was charged. He later returned to the restaurant group in an undefined role, which he occupied until his resignation.

“We understand his decision and are grateful for his innumerable contributions and dedication over the last 10 years, and we wish him success for his future endeavors, ” the Uchi Restaurant Group said in a statement at the time.


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