April 9, 2014
Not that long ago, a woman recently called ahead to the restaurant that I was working in to ask, “I need to know if I can bring a service animal into the restaurant.” Obviously, of course you can bring in a service animal—so long as you bring in the proper paperwork to show it’s legit. But when she arrived—no fucking shit—she brought a giant two-foot-cage in with a talking parrot inside and the paperwork to back it up. Apparently, she suffers from extreme anxiety and some sort of depression disorder that requires her to cart around a caged parrot that gives her compliments. Our waiters had to listen to this parrot chatting with this lady, giving her compliments throughout her entire meal, as they dropped off different plates of food. I wish I was making it up.
I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I still live and work here as a full-time pastry chef. We have this hometown slogan, “Keep Austin Weird,” a phrase that’s been used to reflect our native weirdos, from the beloved (and now deceased) homeless man, Leslie Cochran, to Willie Nelson, to our democratic stance in the midst of the right-wing stronghold over our state as a whole. But I think that a lot of locals in Austin are having fears that Austin is getting too yuppified, that too many transplants might tamper with our Southern crazy. Luckily, I can firmly state that our clientele in the downtown dining scene is keeping things super weird for our Texan community.
Over the past five years, the Austin food scene has been bursting with incredible talent around town, from the Uchi family, Ramen Tatsuya, Barley Swine, Justine’s, Swift’s Attic, Olivia’s, Qui,Dai Due Supper Club, Parkside, Bufalina Pizza, Easy Tiger Bakery, Lenoir, Elizabeth Street Café—the list goes on and on. We’ve got an incredible source of restaurant patrons at these establishments who maintain a sane level of interactions with the staff, but no one quite compares to the crazy