Austinites are passionate about food. No matter if it’s an all-night taco truck or a white linen affair, people are committed to pleasing their palates. Jackson Bolton and Alicia Lovell of Pearl Snap Cuisine offer wild game dinners, wedding catering, and cooking style competitions. Roy Daley of Daley Meals is a personal chef offering catering, food and healthy lifestyle consulting, and fine dining services. These top-rated Austin businesses meals are here to give you the skinny on getting fed right in this culinary city.
How would you describe the Austin food scene?
Explosive and everywhere! Wherever you turn in Austin, you bump into a new restaurant, new cuisine, and exciting new chefs. I can be shopping at my local grocery store—Central Market—and see a James Beard Award-winning Chef, then go have dinner at another James Beard recipient’s restaurant later that evening, says Jackson.
Where are your Austin hot spots?
Our favorite casual hot spot is Santa Rita Tex Mex (pictured above) shares Jackson. It’s close to home and the perfect place to share a Mexican Martini. Mexican Martinis are an Austin institution featuring traditional margarita ingredients shaken with a splash of olive brine, served up in a martini glass, and garnished with olives. Our favorite formal dining is the modern Japanese cuisine at Uchi. We love their amazing food and the constant culinary inspiration they provide!
I like Kin & Comfort for casual and Uchiko for formal, shares Roy. Kin & Comfort’s menu is a mashup of southern comfort food and traditional Thai meals—just one example of the Austin restaurant scene’s experimental flavor profiles.
What’s the scoop with Austin’s prolific food truck scene?
There are food trucks everywhere in Austin. While the city may seem a little overrun with them, they can be a great way for new chefs to get their start without having to invest in a brick and mortar building, shares Jackson.
Roy agrees the cost to open a restaurant is challenging, so owning a food truck is less risky and some cases more practical for budding chefs or those wanting to experiment with a new concept.
Is Austin a good environment for personal chefs?
This city provides amazing opportunity for talented people to start their own business. You definitely need confidence, a good spirit, and an excellent support system! I became a personal chef eight years ago and have worked up to running a full service catering company, says Jackson. We now serve parties of 250 people or more and have many staff members to assist. One key for my company was collecting equipment—piece by piece, year by year. Each investment has contributed to my operation, like that $400 tabletop fryer I bought seven years ago. I have taken great care of it and it serves me well to this day.
What are the top requests you get from Austin clientele?
Wild Game. It is the thing that sets us apart, shares Jackson. Our clients love getting to experience a little bit of Texas, no matter where in the world they are coming from. We learned from the best, have specialized in it, and continue teaching it to our clients through our personal dinners and Iron Chef-style cooking classes.
Healthy meals, paleo, gluten free, and other personal services are my top request, says Roy. I also receive a lot of requests from injured athletes or cancer survivors seeking healing nutrition.
What do you recommend for hiring the perfect personal chef?
Look for multiple amazing reviews, says Jackson. Read that resume and check those references. When meeting with the chef, ask about their best dinners and events, ask about their history, and ask for the DETAILS. A good personal chef is going to be a key part of your important event. Be sure it feels like they will share in your passion!
Ask how many years experience they have as a chef, says Roy. Make sure the chef can meet your request and expectations. Ask as many questions as possible and place a small order as a test to try out the service before making a commitment.
Any insider tips or food tricks you’d like to share with readers?
Whether you’re a chef on the rise, or a dinner host with the most, Jackson recommends you always, ALWAYS be early. When prepping for a dinner party, make daily lists and prioritize. Plan out your week by day and never stop working. Last of all, presentation is everything!
Shop with the freshest ingredients, try new seasonings, and if you’re not familiar with a vegetable, take the time to read about it and challenge yourself to create something new, recommends Roy.
Inspired to host a chef-prepared dinner party at your place? Connect with the food pros in your area.
[Photos: Top – Austin food truck; Middle – Santa Rita Tex Mex; Bottom – Mexican Martini]