Al Fico has a chef! And we’re already previewing the new menu

chef al fico austin texas

Above: Chefs Dean Chambers and Jesse Marco. Trained in Italy, chef Dean is Al Fico’s new chef. He and Jesse have already been developing the new menu together at Vino Vino.

We are thrilled to announce that Dean Chambers (above, left, with Chef Jesse Marco of Vino Vino) has been hired as the new chef at Al Fico, Austin’s new Italian, slated for a late summer 2013 launch.

Chefs Dean and Jesse have already been developing new dishes for the Al Fico menu and the kitchen at Vino Vino has been featuring some of their new creations on the Vino Vino menu (subject to availability).

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Above: Taglierini al nero di seppia con vongole (Cuttlefish Ink Taglierini with Fresh Clams). On a recent evening, an Austin-based food blogger and longtime resident of Naples, Italy, said that this dish tasted “like the Amalfi coast!”

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, chef Dean discovered his passion for cooking thanks to his Italian-born grandfather, Pasquale Pavone, from the central Italian region of Abruzzo (famous for its cured meats, dried pastas, and its black truffles).

“Every Sunday, my grandfather made a classic ‘red sauce’ dinner. He would simmer all the meats in the tomato sauce, served the sauce over pasta, and then serve the meats as second course.”

After high school, he worked his way up from dish washer to sous chef, ultimately landing a job under Chef Harvey Harris of Siena Ristorante Toscana, Austin’s leading Italian chef.

Inspired by Chef Harvey’s tales of Italy and his experience studying Italian gastronomy in Italy, Dean followed in his footsteps: in 2004, he attended the prestigious ICIF, the Italian culinary and enology institute in Piedmont, Italy.

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Above: The whole Branzino, real sea bass. This entrée is already on the menu at Vino Vino for just $23.

Chef Jesse Marco is also a native Texan, born in El Paso and raised at Ft. Hood.

After completing his training on the Austin campus of the renowned Le Cordon Bleu cooking school,  Jesse packed up and headed out to Afghanistan, where he worked as a contract cook for the United States military.

After paying off his student loans, he came back to his native Texas where he landed a job with Chef Esteban Escobar at Vino Vino in 2008.

“I learned culinary technique in cooking school,” says Jesse. “Everything else I learned from Esteban,” who attention to detail and passion for authentic European and American cooking still helps to set Vino Vino’s menu apart from the rest.

“I’m really happy about our new whole branzino,” notes Jesse, “it’s one of the best deals on the menu right now.”

“We weren’t sure if people would be okay with being served the whole fish, with the head and tail, the way they do it in the Mediterranean. But we sell out every night!”

Al Fico — an authentic Italian trattoria from the team behind Vino Vino — is slated to open on East 2nd St. @ Chalmers by the end of summer 2013.

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