Katy Milam, Chef & Tatanka Guerrero, Owner / Al Campo, Marfa, TX

“I’m moving to Marfa, I’ve got ten days.”

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Katy Milam moved to Marfa from Los Angeles earlier this year. On a whim, she visited for three days after her good friend, Tatanka Guerrero, asked her to. He offered her a position as chef at Al Campo - the newest restaurant in town. The rest is history.

Katy spent the last 15 years in Los Angeles, working at a company that wasn’t challenging or creative enough. “My soul was dying,” she recalls as talked about her job search - she eventually responded to an ad from a production company that needed help executing workshops. When she interviewed, they admitted that they needed someone that could also cook. Within weeks, it turned into only cooking. It spiraled from there - she started doing catering gigs, productions, doing popups, and everything in between.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

She comes from a long line of Cajuns from New Orleans, so it's no wonder that Katy felt at ease in the kitchen. Most of what she’s known in the kitchen, she learned from her mother and grandmother. The slower pace in Marfa has seeped into her routine, like it does for everyone thats moved there. She enjoys spending her time in the kitchen, perfecting her smoked chicken taco recipe and looking out the window as someone takes their first bite of food. 

As for Tatanka, he’s been in the industry for a bit. He worked the bar scene in Miami, to opened new concepts in Las Vegas, and after an epiphany with his business partner, he found himself in Marfa, enamored by the small town charm and ability to attract expats from all over the world to the remote Texas desert.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

He spent the first three months in Marfa taking it in before breaking ground on the project. The idea of building out their hotel brand, Hotel Bohemio, was perfect for the environment.  “The journey that we are on right now is to become part of the community and to build culture,” he explains. You can tell that the man has put forth so much time and effort into the concept, making the Al Campo space as comfortable as possible. “You build a little bit of that passion every day here,” Tatanka stresses when he talks about the dedication and hard work that his small team has brought.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

These two are prime examples of what you’ll find in Marfa - individuals dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, in the middle of the desert. Marfa’s a carefree place, there’s no such thing as traffic jams, and people have to constantly remind you to slow it down when you’re out there. The community is supportive of endeavors such as Al Campo and open to tourists and weekend warriors alike.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

It’s really a magical oasis smack dab in the midst of West Texas, full of art, creatives, warm greetings, and quirky townspeople.

photo credit: jake pritchard, adventure assist

photo credit: jake pritchard, adventure assist

Jen Cumberbatch, Founder & Owner / Cumberbatch's Sweet Tater Torte

“That’s what we do, we break bread. It’s in our culture, this has been passed down in my family.”

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

I was completely taken by Jen Cumberbatch when I first sat down to speak to her. The woman has such a delightful presence and is so poised when she speaks of the beginnings of Cumberbatch’s Sweet Tater Torte. Not only is she the founder of these delicious concoctions, she’s also an actress, mother of four, and a pastor.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

Her grandfather was the oldest son in his family - with four other siblings to take care of. He dropped out of prep school to help his sister  with her catering businesses in order to put the others through school. During his time catering, he passed down the recipe for a sweet potato torte to Jen’s aunts. Jen learned of the recipe from her Aunt Lou and it quickly became a staple during the holidays. The Cumberbatch’s moved to Austin after college and have been a staple in the community since then.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

She was inspired by dinner at her mentoring pastor’s house when a Cajun woman presented her pie. With the inspiration of her great grandfather’s souffle and that pie, she tinkered away until she perfected her own recipe. She presented her tortes to the public almost thirty years ago, working out of the kitchen of Hyde Park Bar & Grill. Eventually, the tortes were put on the back burner until recently.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

As of October of last year, Jen has brought them back, mainly for holidays and hoping to start shipping her famed family recipe. She believes that storytelling through food is a powerful medium to evoke higher thinking and most of all, a better human connection.

CSTT_-100.jpg
photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

Roberto Ainslie, General Manager / Olamaie & An Ode to Pre-Shift

“Honestly, it was really happenstance, you know?”

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

Roberto Ainslie hadn’t planned to land in food & beverage. Way back when, “Ro” as he’d rather be called, was in his first semester of graduate school for counseling while doing some art consulting on the side. He met Scott Walker and Chef David Bull of now defunct fine dining establishment, Congress, by way of his childhood friend and chef, Rebecca Meeker. Starting as a server assistant at Second Bar + Kitchen, he eventually worked his way up to managing Congress. After juggling a year and a half of grad school and managing, he was offered a job in New York.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

A stint at an advertising agency as their events manager then led to Michelin-star Betony in Midtown Manhattan. Though Betony has since closed, Ro lovingly talks about the in’s and out’s of fine dining that he learned at his time there. “Restaurants in New York are super, super intense. I was working here, without exaggeration, eighty-five plus hours a week. Everything we did expanded.” New York can take a lot of you, folks. You don’t have to live there to know that the lifestyle, especially for those that work in the service industry, can be tirelessly draining. But when you hear Ro compare a napkin fold be as important as the garnish of a dish is, you can tell that the man really cares about his work.

Eventually, he made his way back to Austin in 2014, working at some wonderful Austin restaurants: Jeffrey’s, opening Gardner, Boiler Nine, and now landing at Olamaie. I had the opportunity to witness Ro at work at this James Beard award-winning restaurant, during pre-shift. 

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola 

photo credit: moyo oyelola 

So, here’s the thing about pre-shift in restaurants. You know how before the big game, the team and coach get together to go over their game plan? This is the equivalent for the restaurant industry (sorry I tried to throw a sports reference in there when I know hardly anything about sports but I’m sure you feel me). Back in the day, when I worked in restaurant kitchens in Vegas, I’d try and eavesdrop on pre-shift talk from the front of the house managers and servers, because I was always intrigued by this daily ritual before service.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

While I watched Ro in the midst of pre-shift, his staff so attentive, Chef Michael Fojtasek also at the helm of this meeting, it was all overwhelmingly inspiring. They went through the motions, what was available on the menu, new ingredients and rotating wines on their menu, and answered each other’s questions. Literally, you could have picked my jaw up off the floor because this is it, y’all!

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

This is Southern fine dining at its best in Austin, Texas. Locals love to gloat on how casual it is here and that we aren’t stuffy like them Yankees up in New York or those Californians in San Francisco but if you aren’t looking too closely, you may just miss a fine dining experience that is offered by some of the most dedicated professionals in the food & beverage industry.  

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

They ended their pre-shift with a word of the day, as Ro asked one of the sous chefs for a suggestion. “How about ‘welcome’? Since we have a new team member, I’m back in town, and it just seems appropriate.” On the count of three, the whole team shouted “Welcome!” in unison and broke for what I’m sure was a wonderful dinner service.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

Thanks Ro, and thanks to the team at Olamaie, for making it known that there are some amazingly dedicated folks in our industry. 

Ashley Cheng, Owner & Partner / SPUN Ice Cream

“It was important to them that we went and got educations and didn’t end up in the food industry but somehow we did.”

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

The industry runs in the family, Ashely Cheng fully admits. The family landed in Austin in the seventies, with the help of her great uncle, a former math professor at Huston-Tillotson University, sponsoring their move. Looking back on it now, Ashley beams at the closeness of proximity between the SPUN Ice Cream flagship store and Huston-Tillotson in East Austin.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

Her father owns Chinatown in the Bee Caves area (where she and her siblings learned the ways of industry, hands on) and her aunt owns Freda’s, a Cajun-influenced North Austin restaurant. She and her sister Christina, focused on degrees that weren’t based in the industry (Ashley went to Boston University and Christina went to UT after a stint at the University of Chicago). After a few years in journalism, Christina decided to get back in the family business and earned her pastry certificate from Le Cordon Bleu.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

With the help of their cousin, Christopher, they opened SPUN in 2015. The trio manage the ice cream shop, with their focus on liquid nitrogen ice cream. “It’s not just a gimmick, it has a different texture. The ingredients are really fresh”, she says. Their focus of local and fresh ingredients and made from scratch mentality sets SPUN apart from other shops. Along with their flagship store on the East Side, they just opened their second location at the Domain along with their ice cream truck. “There’s so much room for creativity in the ice cream world. We focus on nostalgic, childhood flavors we grew up on”, Ashley points out. Not only does SPUN make it fun to play with your food, they tug at your heart strings with childhood flavor combos made for grown palettes.

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

photo credit: hakeem adewumi

SALO Series x Flavor & Bounty at Space 24 Twenty

Summer’s arrived in Austin and what better way is there to kick off the season than with a Filipino pop-up dinner?! A couple weeks ago, Yana Gilbuena of SALO Series came back to town and we threw INIT: A Filpino Summer Feast. This menu was an homage to our culture’s hot weather food full of whole fish, pickled vegetables, and plenty of that bright, green rice she’s known for!

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

photo credit: benjamin garrett

Thanks so much to Space 24 Twenty, Topo Chico, Chameleon Cold Brew, Tito’s Vodka, and all of our wonderful friends that helped out that night. Biggest thank you to Benjamin Garrett for capturing the night. <3

Carol Ann Sayle & Larry Butler, Farmers & Owners / Boggy Creek Farm

Nestled in the heart of East Austin, the five acres of Boggy Creek Farm represent one of the most veteran urban farms in the whole country, let alone in Austin. The house on the lot was built in 1840 along with its sister house, The French Legation Museum, which is close by. Both houses were built in 1841 and Carolann stresses the fact that they have to not only take care of their five acres of farmland but also the house itself. 

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Carol Ann Sayle and Larry Butler started their original farm in 1991, about 80 miles away in the Oak Hill area. At the time, Carolann had an art studio right next to Larry's television store. Their landlord introduced the two, they formed a friendship, and found themselves combining their families. Larry's family grew up on 40 acres of farmland in the area, so he knew a thing or two about farming before Boggy Creek. They always loved East Austin and found themselves buying their East Austin land in 1992 so they could farm in town. The grand greenhouse contains the seeds that end up being planted in the field, as Carol Ann stresses that everything on the farm is started at seed right there. From tomatoes and cauliflower to Romanesco and everything in between, all of the produce is lovingly cared for by the Sayle/Butler Family and their small team.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro 

photo credit: irvianne torremoro 

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Since there weren’t any farm stands in the area, they started their own on their property in 1994, with just one table of produce until the word spread. Nowadays, Boggy Creek Farm stand has expanded from that first table to a larger spot next to the house. Boggy Creek’s weekly produce is represented, along with goods from other local purveyors like Pure Luck Farm, Bee Tree Farm, Dos Lunas and Thunder Heart Bison. Also on the shelves are Larry’s Original Smoked Dried Tomatoes and Hot Sauce, both delicious snacks from the man himself. The farm stand is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Kendall & John Antonelli, Owners / Antonelli's Cheese Shop

“It’s a cheesy love story, through and through”, Kendall Antonelli says when she talks about the labor of love that is Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

The two met in college, at Georgetown, and have been inseparable ever since. Kendall, hailing from North Texas, and John, coming from just outside of New York City, decided to move to Austin after college and get married. At the time, John was a CPA while Kendall worked for a local nonprofit in town. During their honeymoon, John turned around to Kendall and expressed his interest in the cheese business. They had no clue what was in store for them in that world but they decided that after the honeymoon, they’d pursue their dream. Two years later, the duo opened their doors to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin’s Hyde Park Neighborhood.

kendall antonelli, adorably showing us around the cheese shop. photo credit: irvianne torremoro

kendall antonelli, adorably showing us around the cheese shop. photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

At first, the duo started out with themselves along with one other employee and have now expanded to 18 employees and plenty of regulars. Both their cheese shop and house have plenty of smiling faces willing able to help customers out in their selection of cheeses. They do practically everything: from working in wholesale with local restaurants and chefs, to their cheese of the month club, e-commerce, and events. 

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

At any given moment, there are about 75-100 cheeses in their store with an additional 100 cheeses at the cheese house, for local suppliers. Antonelli’s are proud members of the local Slow Food Austin chapter along with the Good Food Retailers Collaborative, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Though the cheese world can be very overwhelming, they break it down in seven different categories: fresh, bloomy/soft rind, washed rind, semi-soft, firm, hard, and blue. Feel free to walk into the cheese shop at any given moment and ask their friendly cheesemongers for a Cheese 101 Tutorial, they’re always happy to walk you through ‘em! Though they’re often asked whether they make their own cheeses, they do not, but Kendall’s response is, “We don’t craft cheese, we craft stories.” Their story is one made with an abundance of passion and love, between each other and for what they do.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Tessa Halstead, Chocolatier & Owner / Chocolaterie Tessa

To say that I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. Basically, walking into Chocolaterie Tessa’s space in North Austin is a dream come true. You’re usually greeted by Tessa Halstead, second generation chocolatier and owner, in a bright room which showcases her award-winning confectioneries, accompanied with the sweet smell of chocolates  being made right behind the counter.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

Tessa comes from a family of chocolatiers, working with her father since she was fourteen. His chocolate shop started in 1983 and while she put the idea of chocolate making aside during college to pursue a career in corporate America, she found that chocolate has always been her calling. Her father had retired and she decided to pursue chocolate making with the start of her business in 2012. One of the machines she uses in her shop is her dad’s original that was housed in his shop thirty years ago. It made its way back into the family after they found it at an auction in Dallas and is now helping crank out more delicious goodies from Tessa.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

“We stay focused on providing the best ingredients and everything is made fresh, no preservatives and it’s all natural”, Tessa states as she excitedly talks about the farmers and small companies she works with. The shop is filled with chocolate molds, conveyor belts, and smiling employees happily putting together flavors such as her award-winning salted caramel, bourbon pecan, and her Origin line: full of cacao beans from different countries such as the Dominican Republic, Papa New Guinea, Peru, and Ecuador.

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

She and her husband try to take a chocolate-related trip every year for research and development from France to Belgium and everything in between. Tessa’s face lights up every time she talks about chocolate making and the business. “One of things that’s special about chocolates is that people are happy when they come in. They have this person in mind that they want to buy a gift for, or they’re excited to try something new”, she elaborates with a grin ear to ear.  

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

photo credit: moyo oyelola

Dorsey Barger & Susan Hausmann, Owners / HausBar Urban Farm

“The driving principle here is insane levels of sustainability,” Dorsey Barger says of HausBar Farms.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

A gem hidden off the beaten path in East Austin, Dorsey and her wife Susan Hausmann found the two acres of land in 2009 that would be their beloved farm and garden. Barger owned East Side Cafe for twenty years before realizing she needed a different challenge. The pair turned a lot full of junk into a paradise with a plethora of vegetables, animals, and the ethos of sustainability at its core.  

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

Dorsey stresses that everything is completely pesticide and gas-free, all fifty-one vegetable beds were dug by hand and taken care of with as much care for the environment and local community as possible. When you hear Dorsey speak about the farm, you can tell how much she cares about every single millimeter of the farm, from the okra, marigold, bananas (yes, Texas grown bananas!), and her brood of animals (make sure to say hi to Gustavo the Gus for some kisses and his personal tour of the farm).

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

HausBar works directly with restaurants to up the ante on their seasonal menus. Drop the the name to any local chef and they’ll know who you’re talking about, singing the praises of this urban farm. Dorsey has credited “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan as a major inspiration for the open educational tours they provide. The science behind upholding HausBar is fascinating and she's more than willing to further explain the ecosystems that make the farm what it is today.

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

photo credit: irvianne torremoro

SALO Series x Flavor & Bounty Popup dinner, Space Ninety 8

Serendipitous encounters and grit brought Yana Gilbuena of SALO Series and I back together in Brooklyn for a popup dinner at the wonderful Space Ninety 8 venue. Last December, my family and I had just driven from Las Vegas to Los Angeles for Christmas and I excitedly brought them to Lasa, where the Valencia brothers are at the helm of modern Filipino food. I looked over to my left and saw a familiar face and approached a table of two, “Hey this might sound crazy, but were you at a brunch popup back in November in Austin?” Tania Enriquez, looked up at me with a huge grin on her face, and we immediately hit it off. She introduced me to her friend, Diane Chang, of Eating Popos, who has hosted events at the Urban Outfitters/Space Ninety 8 venue, and they suggested a Filipino popup dinner in New York. We started an e-mail thread, wished each other happy holidays and good luck into the new year and were off.

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

Quickly after the new year started, the ball was rolling when Yana jumped on board for the popup dinner. Since the woman is a force all on her own and completely down for most anything, especially when it comes to travel and food, I knew she’d be on board. She booked her tickets, we put the menu together, and February rolled around in no time.

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

The week of the popup was hectic and crazy but definitely worth all the running around we did, from Brooklyn to Queens and back to Brooklyn. Asian markets in Flushing are no joke, if anyone was wondering. We’re so thankful for Neil Syham of Lumpia Shack for rolling through and bringing us plus all of our produce back to Williamsburg.

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

I cannot thank everyone enough for spending their Friday night with us and enjoying the food of our culture. It’s always a pleasant surprise when the nerves wash away and I can breathe a sigh of relief, look at Yana, and proclaim, “Dang girl, we did it, again!” She’s so used to the high energy that it doesn’t even phase her at this point. Thank you to Heidi Lee and Eric Michael Pearson for capturing the night. A huge shout out to the amazing team behind Space Ninety 8 and Urban Outfitters for helping us put this together: Tania Enriquez, Cara Flaherty, Cristina Fisher, and Sheewa Salehi.

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: heidi lee

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

photo credit: eric michael pearson

squad goals/fempire: diane chang, cara flaherty, tania enqriuez, yana gilbuena, & yours truly. xoxo, ladies, now let's get in formation. <3 

squad goals/fempire: diane chang, cara flaherty, tania enqriuez, yana gilbuena, & yours truly. xoxo, ladies, now let's get in formation. <3