Like house tours for Apartment Therapy, maker tours are my favorite features on The Kitchn. You get to go behind-the-scenes a bit on how a bakery, ice cream shop, distillery or other ‘makers’ go about creating the great items that people line up for. When I started thinking about who would be a good candidate for such a feature here in Austin, my first thought was Easy Tiger. Not only do I love the great food and atmosphere there, I imagined there must be some really interesting tricks to create the bread and sausages that make their way to the table. Andrew Curren and David Norman surely didn’t disappoint.
I love Easy Tiger’s concept and spirit. Their motto “stay awhile” definitely is reflective of all the dining experiences I’ve shared there. You get a seat downstairs and the whole vibe of the place just makes you want to kick-back and have a beer or two. I’ve been there with a wide variety of folks and everyone has always had a good time, comfort foods and beer have a way of doing that.
I met Chef Drew for the first time at the Real Ale dinner Easy Tiger had just a couple weeks ago – which b.t.w. was fantastic with beers I’ve never had before (Scots Gone Wild) paired with plates that let Chef Drew indulge his culinary creativity. He greeted all the guests at the end of the meal and you got the sense that he has that easy-going, let’s-grab-a-beer personality his restaurant captures so well.
When I formally met Chef Drew for the Maker Tour piece, I also learned how passionate he is about food and about doing things right. There was a key piece of the article that showed this but it got edited out of the final piece. It went like this…
The secret ingredient to every dish is the pride and responsibility that the people behind Easy Tiger speak to and believe in. They’re proud of every plate of food that goes out, and every loaf of bread that is pulled from the oven because they’re proud of the ingredients, the equipment, the servers, and every individual they work with. This pride is why Easy Tiger is making things it stands behind, and why you feel that family element when you dine there.
When I heard Chef Drew speak of honesty and pride, I felt it, and it made me stand a little taller in my seat as I realized I too wanted to have that same sense of pride in my work and my photos.
Talking with Baker David Norman it was clear he had those same values and the more I learned the more my appreciation for the people behind it grew.
We went upstairs after a good dialogue and I took several photos of the bakery and the kitchen. Shots like this of the food preparation…
and shots of Drew scooping out some bone marrow for the industry night special…
I did those while the bread went through its various stages of testing, proofing, and baking. The racks of pretzels and pretzel buns tempting me as I went back-and-forth between the bakery and the kitchen.
After we wrapped up there I packed my flour-coated bags and went along with Drew to the commissary kitchen to get some shots of where the sausages are made. Drew mentioned that this was a glimpse into his day, dividing his time between 24 Diner, the commissary kitchen, to Easy Tiger, and back again – 12 hours a day. The man really lives food, every story having a connection to a meal or an ingredient.
It’s refreshing to see someone turn their passion into a career, and to have the responsibility to do things the right way. In one of our conversations I told him my favorite thing about Austin food is how the best things are often the most simple and basic – and often from a humble food truck – they succeed where others don’t because the person behind it really cares for what they’re making and they have an enthusiasm to share their passion through food. Easy Tiger fits in that same category and its why I keep going back.
Check out outtakes from the Maker Tour below, and don’t forget to see the full feature here on The Kitchn.