Kevin Fink of Austin’s Emmer & Rye is a 2016 F&W Best New Chef
Where: Emmer & Rye, Austin
51 Rainey St.; 512-366-5530; emmerandrye.com
Why Fink is amazing: He’s wildly passionate about grains, milling up to 15 kinds in his Austin kitchen. He uses them to make everything from the White Sonoran Bialys he often serves at brunch to Red Fife tagliatelle with merguez, tomato and fennel.
Born: Concord, MA, 1984
Résumé: Olamaie, Austin; Noma, Copenhagen, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA (stages); Trattoria 13 Gobbi, Florence
Education: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
Quintessential dish: White Sonoran pappardelle with pork ragout and basil
How he got into cooking: "I got into the restaurant business haphazardly. My dad purchased Hacienda Del Sol resort in Tucson. When I was 13, he decided to open the Grill at Hacienda Del Sol. I was the dishwasher, then cooked on the line. At the time, though, I was completely sure I was going to be a lawyer."
How he got into milling: "When I was 19 and first traveling to Italy, it was something I became infatuated with. You could go to the farm, take something into your house and just mill it down with the grinder. You had these very functional and unique heirloom grinders that you could use whether you were coming from the coffee fields or had yerba mate."
A highlight of staging at Noma: Participating in Saturday Night Projects, during which kitchen staff prepare dishes for critique by one another and chef René Redzepi. Fink’s dish: cured pig’s head with seared koji cake, crispy kale, pickled turnips and greens with pine broth.
Why some of his produce isn't local: "There are not a lot of places here in Texas that grow non-GMO grains, so we source those items from Arizona, where I grew up, or areas in the South. It’s a good example of where a restaurant like ours can be influential in our community."
His favorite grain: Emmer, the restaurant’s namesake. "Its protein and nutrition content is so high, and it has such depth of flavor and diversity. When it’s young and green, it tastes wheaty and grassy. When it’s mature, it plays into more rich applications of pasta."
Fun fact: Fink collects spice and coffee grinders from every country he visits. He uses them to decorate the shelves of his restaurant, along with vintage glass pieces.
Follow @emmerandrye on Instagram.