Al Fico names new chef!
News from our soon-to-be-opened sister restaurant, Al Fico…
“I come from a Cajun family,” says Clinton Bertrand (above). “All the men in my family cook. And so it was in my blood.”
The southeast Texas native first began working in the restaurant business straight out of high school.
By the late 1990s, he had moved to Austin where he landed a spot in the kitchen at Vespaio, where he worked from 1999-2003.
But California’s burgeoning food scene was calling him.
“I never wanted to cook French food,” says Clinton, now 39, “but I wanted to learn foundational French cookery and basic charcuterie.”
In 2003, he took a position at San Francisco’s storied Jeanty at Jack’s with acclaimed chef Justin Deering.
It would only take a few more years before he would land a spot as sous chef at A16, widely considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S. today.
It was there that he honed his skills and knowledge in authentic Italian gastronomy and the experience inspired him to follow a career path in Italian cooking
What brought him back to Austin in 2008?
“I met the right girl and married her,” he says. “And Austin was where she wanted to live.”
1700 E 2nd St. Austin, TX 78702 (cross street: Chalmers)
Owners: Jeff Courington and Kelly Bell (founders and owners at Vino Vino)
Food: Authentic and creative Italian cuisine inspired by osteria cooking; traditional dishes and contemporary interpretations of classics; Roman-style wood-fired pizza; 100 percent Italian wine list featuring iconic estates as well as avant-garde winemakers.
Décor: Old-school Italian osteria with tiled floors, white tablecloths, and chandeliers; photographs of Italy and Italians, shot on and printed from analog film by Austin artist Nils Juul-Hansen, line the walls.
The name “Al Fico” means literally “by the fig tree.” In the era after WWII, Italian cheese mongers and salumi producers would set up stands in the shade of trees along the road so that they could sell their wares to passing travelers. As Italy rebuilt and the economic outlook improved, many of them opened restaurants in the shadow of those same trees. The name of Jeff Courington and Kelly Bell’s Al Fico is inspired by that tradition and their love of all things Italian.