Chef Life



Monday we are closed. Its a day that most restaurants are closed. Its a day of rest. A day to regroup. Many service industry workers spend Sunday nights drinking the night away and partying like its a Saturday night. But for some chefs its another long day at the restaurant. We are the only ones there. Inventory, menu planning, scheduling, cleaning, regrouping. For me I just took over a small restaurant in north Austin. It has brought the passion back into my life. You see I have spent most of my career behind the stainless steel tables. You would find me on the line or working the service window. Never the one to step out and say this is my food. I was there to make someone else look good. But this time at Royal Jelly I have the opportunity to finally take the main stage. I’m proud of what we are creating. The owner of the restaurant has been great. Young and full of energy and passion. He is someone that wants to grow and do the best job he can do.

royal jelly

First off, I love food. If you have been following Ainsley and I while we are on this journey it is easy to see that we both have a love food that is I guess in some ways frightening. We spend hours everyday just talking food. Ideas, menus, passion, love and where to go next with our lives. Its been fun being a chef and a blogger. Some cooks and chefs look at us funny. They think “whoa she knows a lot about food, or he is actually a chef and knows his stuff”. It has opened a lot of doors for us. But it has also given us the opportunity to talk to other chefs about their passion and why they do what they do. This life is not easy. Trust me its not. But I love it. My little girl has told me multiple times that she loves that her daddy is a chef. We cook together and we share a father daughter bond that way. Its great.  But I have also heard ” daddy you have to work again, I miss you and want to be with you”. Those are the tough days

It is not easy to walk into a restaurant and say “hey I’m the new guy, and what you are doing is wrong and I am going to change the menu next week”. But this transition has been easy. One thing that I wanted to show with this new menu was love. I wrote a post about a restaurant a couple of months ago that talked about the love they had for their customers. Now I am not a front of the house person. But I wanted to show our customers that I love what I do. I wanted to give the restaurant a feel of ” they know what they are doing, this is love”. Before I created the new menu I must have gone over more than 100 other restaurants menus. Looking at what they had. What they lacked. Or what Austin lacked. I took inspiration from someone who I trust more than anyone. I cooked for their palate. And so far its working. I think I have something that is unique. Its not a menu that you have for yourself. Its small plates to share. I want it to be a place where you can order a couple of plates for you and another person. Enjoy food that is prepared with love. Have great drinks and food. And then do it again next weekend or a couple of times a week.

The Food


When I first had the thoughts of Lamb Meatballs I wasn’t sure how it would go over. Lamb is one of those things that is hit or miss with some people I knew that if I was going to do this I had to showcase the meat. Not the spices or herbs that are in the mix. And I knew for sure that there would be NO mint in the mix. Sorry. Bolognese is a sauce that is near and dear to my heart. I didn’t want to make just a straight ragu sauce. I wanted to tell a story with this sauce. I wanted our customers to take a bite of the sauce and the meatball. Close their eyes and feel the story being told. As you take it in. Feel the sweetness from the tomatoes. The creaminess of the butter. The kick from the garlic. And of course lets not forget the house made creme fraiche that I make just for this dish. It really sets it off. The meatballs are full of juice. You really taste the lamb as it sits in the sauce. Just thinking of it makes me smile. There are other notes that I want you to feel as well. But I want you to figure it out yourself.



Duck Poutine. What can I say. Canada you got it right with this one. There are only a hand full of places in Austin that serve Poutine. So of course I had to join the club. One thing that I told myself when creating this dish that if I was going to do this. I had to let the duck shine. I had to give it a ton of flavor. Show it some love. So I decided that I would let the duck marinate for over 24 hours. Really let the meat soak up all the flavors. After it cooks I take all of the juices and make this strong duck gravy. When we first made this dish I remember taking a bite and closing my eyes and thinking ” I may have something here” We finish it off with cheese curds and fresh thyme. We really let the duck be the star of this dish. I am very proud of this one.


Now I do have other menu items that are going to be coming out pretty soon. Over the next couple of months I will be rolling out different specials. Try my queso. Its all love.


I know that its a little weird to be a chef and a blogger. I try not to promote the restaurant too much here or on our social media. I thought I would do a post of what its like to be a chef and give a little insight on the thought process of creating a menu. And where my mindset was while doing so. I love what I do. It has taken me almost half of my life to realize how talented I really am. For most of my career I stood in the back and pushed for other people. Now I am pushing for other reasons. For myself, my little girl, my life partner, and family. Being a chef isn’t about the food. Its the whole package. Can they cook? Can they handle stress? How do they handle a bad review? Can they be a showman? Can they live the life? Well I don’t know all of the answers to these questions for myself. But I know I try. And I hope it shows in my food. Its Love.



Happy Hour at Toulhouse with AFBA

Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance let us into their tribe a few months ago. We were both thrilled to just imagine it. Talking food with people that loved it as much as we do. Obviously every human loves food. We eat it to survive. But these people also worship it. We birth it from our brains as recipes. We dress it up with dark chocolate ganache or a leaf of basil. We stay at home on Friday nights to imagine rosemary infused donuts.

It is our love. A marriage to the senses of flavor, the sense of beauty and the taste of a memory.


Every month we have happy hours. We have tasted Tyson’s Tacos, Chicon and District Bar and Kitchen. Every time we are treated like the goddesses and gods of the food world. Like royalty. It’s how the media sees us because we are the ones that tell the public what we think. They know we matter. We love to hear the passion in their voices. Their vulnerability in exposing their souls to us as we eat their imagination. They also contemplate donuts…some with whiskey or maybe truffle oil, but donuts unite us all. It is a bond we all feel.


At Toulhouse, pronounced Too Loose, you are greeted by fire in the entrance. The warmth of the French bistro follows me inside and the small inside is opened by the architect’s skills. Glass mirrors stretch from ceilings and an open kitchen reminds me I’m still in Austin. Speaking of a great movie to watch about the man that brought the open kitchen to life is Jeremiah Tower:The Last Magnificent. The food has already reached the tables and I see my fellow bloggers in an instant with their whipped out robots photographing our models. Mini sandwiches. And champagne cocktails, made with brandy.


Ainsley’s Food Review:

The croque madam was like your childhood came back in bite form. The pickled mustard seeds made it simple with flavor bursts. The smoked salmon was bright and filling with tons of dill. I think the dill overpowered other flavor notes and there wasn’t much complexity. The artichoke dip didn’t have enough artichoke to it but. The chips were crunchy and fresh. The desserts are where we found the exploration and thrill of flavor. Dark chocolate was warm and fluffy as a mini cake or perfectly tempered around Amy’s ice cream. The beignets rivaled New Orleans. The service was very pleasing to watch. There was a calmness around the place. No rush. Everyone was happy to be at their job.



Jason’s Food Review:

French cuisine has always intrigued me. Tolhouse was no different. Magical smells of butter and meat filled the room. It reminded me of culinary school. I felt like that was what we had. We had a great experience that  brought me back to why I became a chef. Our beef tartare  had traditional flavors. But we did feel like the dijon mustard was a little too much for the palate. The duck confit was absolutely delicious. Full of flavor and beautifully presented. Now the one thing that made me close my eyes and think to myself was the beignets.  So flaky and moist. The texture of the pastry was perfection. If there was anything that I would say is a must have it would be the beignets. I cannot wait to go back and have another magical moment alone with those pastries