Thursday, January 9, 2014

ELM Restaurant Group to Launch New Italian Concept

ELM Restaurant Group Acquires New Downtown Location
Team Behind 24 Diner, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden and Arro 
to Launch Italian Restaurant Concept in 2014  

The partners of ELM Restaurant Group are excited to announce the acquisition of a restaurant space centrally located in downtown Austin at 123 W. Sixth Street in the historic and acclaimed midcentury-modern McGarrah-Jessee Building, the former site of Bar Louie. This will be the fourth project from the team responsible for local hotspots 24 Diner, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden and Arro.

ELM Executive Chef & Partner Andrew Curren, a two-time nominee for People’s Best New Chef from Food & Wine and twice lauded by industry peers in Best Chefs America (2013, 2014), will helm the kitchen at this new, unnamed Italian concept. The project has special significance for Chef Drew for several reasons. Originally enrolled in the Animal Sciences program at Texas A&M University, it was during his senior year study-abroad program in Tuscany that he fell in love with the Italian culture, discovered his passion for cooking and decided to swap out his lab coat for a chef jacket. It was during this same fortuitous trip that he met and roomed with fellow A&M student Craig Collins, now a Master Sommelier and ELM’s Executive Beverage Director.

Drew went on to become valedictorian of his class at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, where he also met his future wife, pastry chef Mary Catherine Curren. After graduation, he worked in Manhattan for renowned chefs Floyd Cardoz and Danny Meyer before returning to Italian fare at Barbuto under Chef Jonathan Waxman. “Learning the ways of a true farm-to-table restaurant, where we would write menus every morning in the markets for that evening’s service, rekindled my love for rustic Italian food,” says Drew. “I have wanted to create my own version of my experiences in both Italy and New York for quite some time. I plan to merge the pizzeria lunch culture with the rustic and seasonal traditions of Italian trattorias in a super approachable, authentic and warm restaurant comparable to walking into a Tuscan home and sitting down for dinner and wine with family and friends. That’s what brought me to this industry in the first place!”

Master Collins is equally enamored with Italy, having selected the country for his semester abroad specifically to further his wine knowledge. In Tuscany, the two roommates frequently hosted wine tastings for their fellow students, which just seemed like fun at first but soon evolved into a dedicated course of study of its own as they sampled myriad wines side by side, discovering the nuances of the various regions and grape varietals. Prior to his partnership with ELM, Craig worked with Dalla Terra Winery Direct, importing a collection of first-rate Italian wines into the United States. Per Craig, the new concept will feature a “user-friendly, Italian-focused wine program highlighting the iconic producers from premier regions as well as offering a fine selection of cocktails and Italian aperitifs and digestifs.”

The restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in Summer 2014.

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