The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 95 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  95 W ith sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country terrain prominently featured around every corner of its picturesque hotel and golf course, it's almost impossible to have a bad experience at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa. However, it certainly doesn't hurt to have the culinary expertise of Chef André Natera at the helm of the resort's culinary program. Managing more than a half-dozen onsite food concepts is a sizable responsibility for one person, but for a chef with Natera's experience, it's all about moving quickly and staying organized. "You have to understand the importance of being nimble and how to rapidly shift gears when you're working with multiple concepts," says Natera, who, in the spring of 2014, welcomed the opportunity to put his experience to work at Omni, which had just taken ownership of the 30-year-old golf resort and spa the previous year. "It was exciting to see how passionate they were about food and how they wanted each of their properties to really reflect the food culture of their different locations," says Natera. "Having a chance to do that in Austin is a great opportunity." With the specific goal of showcasing the authenticity of Texas cuisine, Natera finessed the menus for each of the resort's restaurant concepts, including the Hill Country Dining Room, 8212 Bar & Grill, Barton's Lounge, the Pool Cabana, Three Springs Spa and the Barton Creek Country Club. "Texas cuisine is such a great palate to work with. It's not just about steak, Tex-Mex and barbecue," says Natera. "It's also about the regional flavors in different parts of the state, as well as the amazing seasonal ingredients we're able to source from Central Texas." Inspired by the flavors of Texas, he's smoked and grilled farm-fresh beets to serve with local goat cheese on a refreshing salad; created pub-grub Scotch eggs with Texas bratwurst and a potato-chip crust served with smoked onion dip; chicken-fried cauliflower, tossed in Buffalo sauce with peanuts, cilantro and mint; and whipped up Texas poutine with fresh-cut French fries topped with cheese curds from a local dairy, Milk King, chopped smoked brisket and Shiner Bock cheese sauce. "Austin really has its own personality when it comes to food," says Natera. "People have more adventurous palates, so it's not unusual to take steakhouse fare and give it an Asian or Latin spin." In the summer, he and other Omni chefs drew on Omni's partnership with the National Honey Board to create honey- inspired summer food and cocktail menus including Lemon Alfalfa honey hummus, a turkey BLT wrap featuring honey-glazed bacon, a honey grapefruit lemonade and a Gold Blossom Margarita. "Austin is a creative city with creative people, and they appreciate when a chef reveals a creative thought process to you on the plate," says Natera. "It makes my job more fun to draw on a lot of different inspirations, and it's rewarding to see the guest have fun with it as well." AUSTIN'S OMNI BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA PUTS A TEXAS TOUCH ON F&B by Jessica Dupuy Uning e Flavors of Texas Clockwise: The potato- chip-crusted Scotch egg with Texas bratwurst begs to be dipped in its smoked onion dip bed; gulf shrimp and grits perch atop Waco gristmill cheese grits and wilted spinach; chicken-fried cauliflower gets a welcome kick of spice and freshness from Buffalo sauce with peanuts, cilantro and mint; a chocolate–peanut butter marquis with salted caramel and peanut candy guarantees you'll end the night on the right note. K N O PHOTOS COURTESY OF OMNI BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA PHOTOS COURTESY OF OMNI BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA Chef André Natera helms the culinary program at Austin's Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa.

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