I need to talk about our new Chef. Yep. You heard that here first - new Chef. You know him, you love him - his name is Josh Williams.
A few months ago, in the wake of Chef Kenny's departure for greener pastures, Josh Williams stalwartly volunteered to step up, not specifically as Chef at the time, but rather as kitchen manager - a title generally reserved for some sweaty dude in a dirty apron. This thankless job typically involves ordering produce, posting work schedules, cleaning the walk-in cooler, and getting bitched at for anything and everything that goes wrong - you know, keeping tabs on the dirty details while the creative types with the tweezers poking out of their starched chef's coats take all the credit.
Previously, Josh served as the jack-of-all-trades mainstay on our management team. He was instrumental in building our coffee program, and he's been money when it comes to making sure we avoid shortcuts, and stay focused on bringing in the best of everything - ingredients, equipment, people, you name it.
When Josh first started at TFB, his cooking experience had been limited to that of an enthusiastic and creative home cook - often using his Australian charcoal grill (I forget what you call it, but it's the finest of its type and don't even talk to him about Webber) out on the screened-in front porch under the oaks at his perfect little south Austin flat. However, over the last year or so, Josh began quietly "staging" - picking up shifts and providing free labor - not only in our kitchen, but also at any other restaurant that would have him.
Suffice it to say, Josh took the job running TFB's kitchen with no small amount of trepidation. As a person who relies on systems and structure, he was faced with the pure chaos that defines a busy restaurant kitchen. But Josh accepted the position because he cares deeply about Texas French Bread, despite not having the safety net underneath him that years of experience would have offered. His first week on the job, he grabbed the blue tape and a sharpie and reorganized our entire refrigerator system. When he was too cold to be in the walk-in refrigerator, he went into our muggy basement space and proceeded to reorganize everything downstairs.
Anyway, as the months have passed, his care and hard work have begun to manifest as something truly special at Texas French Bread. I've particularly loved the new dinner omelette with arugula salad, and his bruschettas have been masterful. He did yeoman's work on a very busy New Year's Eve service, and our brunch service - which seems to get busier every week - has been smooth as silk.
I suppose it was sometime last week when I asked him where he'd gotten the idea for our delicious new pork liver pate and he mentioned Gabriel Hamilton's Prune cookbook that something hit me: my brother Ben knew very little about running a kitchen when we started our dinner service back in 2008. And yet he managed to blossom into a nuanced and gifted chef in the same way Josh is now approaching the job - by working hard, reading a lot of cookbooks and trying to make whatever sounds yummy.
The point is, experience or no, Josh is expressing a level of care and commitment in his approach that can't really be quantified. In short, I've realized that it's high time we stop calling Josh our kitchen manager and call him what he is - the Chef of Texas French Bread. You've earned it Josh - now get out there and continue to wow us (no pressure or anything).
And finally, since we're talking about our food, I did want to throw in a quick plug for Valentine's Day.
Chef Josh has put together a farm sourced menu with some dishes I'm really excited about - a vegetable croquette with pickled shallot and pepper, black drum served with romesco among other options, and some of your favorite TFB classics for dessert.
Much like New Year's Eve, it'll cost a very affordable $45 per person, leaving you some extra cash to get something nice for your sweetie, like a single rose or Godiva chocolates or a book of poetry. HA! Just playin' y'all. Let's be real, if it were me, I'd spend that little extra on some really cool wine to accompany my tasty dinner that previously mentioned Chef Josh will prepare. But that's just me.
So while we're not usually open on Tuesday nights, we'll be serving our prix fixe from 5 to 10 pm on February 14. Reservations are recommended; these kinds of things usually sell out. See the link below to hold your spot.
xo - bon appetit,
PS - You won't see me in the shop this week because I've snuck away to Mexico. I'll be back at my post next week and y'all are going to be really jealous of my tan. In the meantime I hope you'll drop in on the kids and keep them gainfully employed in my absence