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Former Mettle Chef Andrew Francisco Joins Gardner's Opening Team

The new vegetable-focused restaurant from the Contigo team gears up to open on East 6th.

The Gardner Opening Team
The Gardner Opening Team

One of fall's most anticipated openings, new Contigo project Gardner has attracted a great deal of local talent. Latest to join the team is former Mettle chef Andrew Francisco, who left Bridget Dunlap's burgeoning restaurant group earlier this fall. He'll be the chef de cuisine for the vegetable-focused restaurant, which will open soon at East 6th and Chicon.

Contigo/Gardner have been on a hiring spree over the past few months. Pastry chef Stephen Cak joined the burgeoning restaurant group this summer, and they've launched a catering arm as well. Gardner's large opening staff is unusually large for a new Austin restaurant. Here's a breakdown of the full team, per a press release:

Gardner's Opening Team

  • Andrew Wiseheart, Co-Owner/Executive Chef: Before opening Contigo Austin with Co-Owner Ben Edgerton, Andrew spent time at several Michelin-starred restaurants including Napa, CA's La Toque and Angele
  • Ben Edgerton, Co-Owner: Ben opened Contigo Austin with Wiseheart in 2011, inspired by childhood memories growing up at his family's Contigo Ranch in South Texas.
  • Andy Erdmann, Operations Manager: With Austin-based experience at Uchi, Uchiko and La Condesa in Austin, Erdmann also recently helped open the acclaimed Rose's Luxury in Washington, D.C., which was recently named this year's Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit.
  • Roberto Ainslie, General Manager: With experience at Betony in NYC, Ainslie has also spent time at Austin favorites Jeffrey's, Second Bar + Kitchen and Congress, bringing experience and a passion for service to the table at Gardner.
  • Paul Courtright, Beverage Director: Paul brings an impressive knowledge of wine and spirits, coming to Gardner from a distinguished career as a wine buyer with Paul Marcus Wines in California and most recently, Austin-based Pioneer Wines.
  • Andrew Francisco, Chef de Cuisine: Andrew has spent time in several Austin kitchens, including Lambert's, Vespaio, Olivia and Mettle, and is looking forward to reuniting with Wiseheart, with whom he worked at Olivia.
  • PJ Edwards, Sous Chef:  PJ was most recently at Sean Brock's restaurant McCrady's in Charleston, and has also worked at Jason Dady's Bin 555 in San Antonio, and is joining the Gardner team as Sous Chef.
  • Steven Cak ,Executive Pastry Chef:  Steven has created pastry around the country in kitchens such as Aquavit and Cafe Gray in NYC, as well as with the team at Austin's Parkside Projects (Parkside/Backspace/Olive & June/Chavez.)
  • Gardner
    1914 E. 6th