Chef Tien Ho will start at Whole Foods Market early next year. Photo from Business Wire.

Today, Whole Foods Market announced that it had hired former Austin chef Tien Ho as the global vice president of culinary and hospitality.

Ho, who had worked at the Driskill Hotel, left Austin in 2002 to make a name for himself in New York City. After working at noted Big Apple restaurants including Má Pêche, he was named best new chef in 2011 by New York Magazine.

Hiring Ho, who graduated from University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy, indicates that Whole Foods is putting even more emphasis on the restaurant part of its grocery business. Many stores include a “grocerant,” an eatery within the store, and in Austin, those restaurants serve everything from ramen and raw oysters to barbecue and seafood.