Plinio Sandalio, the pastry chef for David Bull at Congress and Second Bar + Kitchen, has announced he is leaving his post to move to The Carillon as executive pastry chef for the whole AT&T Executive Conference Center property under Josh Watkins. The move will be official on November 14th, and Sandalio will keep all prior commitments.
Sandalio has been previously nominated for a James Beard Award for "Best Pastry Chef" while working at Textile in Houston, and appeared on Iron Chef America during his tenure at Noe in Los Angeles.
On Sandalio's departure, David Bull says, "Plinio has an amazing imagination, and while we will miss him, we fully support his decision to challenge himself in a different area of the hospitality industry."
Chef Josh Watkins tells Eater Austin, "I searched my entire career for someone who shares the same out-of-the-box mindset on flavor combinations and presentation on the plate. Our teamwork over the next few months will be special." Watkins adds that he likes the direction Sandalio takes with desserts having less sweet components, interlacing savory flavors to highlight and heighten the sweet ones, such as salt and chocolate.
Commenting on the news, executive pastry chef Phillip Speer of Uchi+Uchiko tells Eater:
Sometimes it takes a little movement, in a new city, for a top tiered pastry chef to find his groove. It is unfortunate that the relationship between Sandalio and 2nd/Congress did not work out, Chef Bull and his people have an awesome operation going on. I wish all the best for Plinio and his new crew, Josh Watkins is a very talented chef and I am sure that Plinio will be a great compliment to the Carillon staff.
As executive pastry chef for the whole AT&T Executive Conference Center, Sandalio will help refine all areas of the program, but his first priority will be desserts at The Carillon. For over the past year, Watkins has not had an executive pastry chef, instead filling the role himself along with his chef de cuisine.
At Congress, chef de cuisine Rebecca Meeker will oversee the pastry department while a national search is conducted. "We have a talented and creative team, and will fill the pastry chef position as soon as we find the right fit," says Bull.
Chefs David Bull and Josh Watkins previously worked together at The Driskill Grill, with Bull as executive and Watkins as his sous. When Bull departed, Watkins assumed the executive role before transferring to his current position at The Carillon.