Fes­ti­val brings un­der-the-radar cooks to Austin


Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - By Ad­die Broyles abroyles@states­man.com

None of the chefs cook­ing at next month’s In­die Chefs Week have their own tele­vi­sion shows, cook­book deals or line of sig­na­ture spices.

They are chefs such as Craig Thorn­ton, who was re­cently pro­filed in the New Yorker for the by-do­na­tion-only pri­vate din­ners that he hosts in his Los An­ge­les apart­ment (and that are among the hard­est reser­va­tions to snag in the whole city).

Or Gre­gory Gour­det, a former New York chef who has been mak­ing waves in Port­land, Ore., with his food at the down­town rooftop restau­rant, De­par­ture.

Or Randy Rucker, a rab­ble-rouser chef in

Hous­ton who is plan­ning to open a restau­rant called Briar and Bram­ble early next year.

Th­ese are the kinds of chefs that Ned El­liott has be­friended dur­ing the years, ei­ther by cook­ing with them in restau­rants such as the French Laun­dry or Per Se, eaten at their restau­rants dur­ing his trav­els or ex­changed tweets with them on so­cial me­dia.

“I had no idea un­til a cou­ple of months be­fore we opened For­eign & Domestic that there was a thing called Twit­ter,” he said. “And through that, we’ve con­nected with so many dif­fer­ent cooks, chefs and sous chefs. We were sit­ting around talk­ing one night and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we could host some­thing to bring them all to­gether?’ ”

That seed has grown into In­die Chefs Week, a din­ner se­ries that will take place Jan. 9-12 at the restau­rant, 306 E. 53rd St. It will fea­ture dozens of buz­zwor­thy — but un­der­the-radar — chefs whom Ned El­liott and his wife, Jodi, re­spect and wanted to con­nect.

Each night will fea­ture a col­lab­o­ra­tive din­ner be­tween a hand­ful of the chefs, end­ing with a 21course show­case meal on Satur­day night that will in­clude con­tri­bu­tions from ev­ery­one.

El­liott says the event is more than an ex­cuse to host din­ners at his restau­rant.

“We want to start a di­a­logue be­tween a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple” who are do­ing in­ter­est­ing things in their com­mu­ni­ties. “We all go through the same thing,” he says, and events such as this give the op­por­tu­nity for chefs to net­work. He says chefs are con­sid­er­ing host­ing sim­i­lar events in other cities and that he hopes to make it an an­nual event here.

“Over five years, all the sud­den there are 100 or so chefs who have been ex­posed to one an­other who wouldn’t have oth­er­wise,” he says. To ease the fi­nan­cial bur­dens on the guest chefs, El­liott says they’ve rented a house for them to stay in, and, if they can at least cover the costs to the restau­rant, they’ll be able to pay for their air­fare too. Any ex­tra money will go to Share Our Strength, a non­profit that the restau­rant has helped in the past.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing Austin chefs in­clude: host chefs with For­eign & Domestic An­thony Fusco, Nathan Lem­ley and Rosie Ship­man; Con­tigo’s An­drew Wise­heart; Mat Clouser of Swift’s At­tic; Plinio San­dalio of the Car­il­lon; Todd Du­plechan of Lenoir; Shawn Cirkiel of Olive & June and Park­side; and Uchi Hous­ton alum Mon­ica Glenn.

You can buy tick­ets ($125 to $200 a din­ner, in­clud­ing al­co­hol but not tax or gra­tu­ity) and find out which chefs are cook­ing when at in­diechef­sweek.com.

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