The past decade sparked the city of Austin to become the fastest growing food-city in America. These years also sculpted a young chef, as he stockpiled knowledge and experience from five cities across the United States. Ryan Francis smelled the opportunity coming from Austin, and found himself at Bryce Gilmore's well-loved restaurant Odd Duck in 2014. Over the next year and a half, he learned how Gilmore and his team approached farm-to-table cuisine utilizing various classic and modern techniques. Armed with invaluable knowledge, and wood-fired passion for the craft, he decided to venture from the Odd Duck.
Gather and Forge is now laying the groundwork for like-minded chefs to nourish hungry clients, showcase their talent, and strengthen the connection between local farmers and anyone who enjoys a good bite or more.
Chef Ryan Francis // Owner
New Mexican Grown // Baked with Travel + Culture // Chasing Life with Zest // Burned his Cookbooks
Organic Burrito Stand — Telluride CO
Farm to Table — Scottsdale, AZ
South Edison Restaurant, Chef Roy Whalers — Montauk, NY
Austin Culinary Academy — Austin, TX
Odd Duck, Chef Bryce Gilmore — Austin, TX
Food has always been a big part of my life, I was told by my father that when I was a young child, I would beg for pizza every single day, the funny part about that story is that “Za” was the only word I knew at the ripe age of 2. My childhood was spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I grew to love New Mexican cuisine, something I am still in love with today! After high school, I moved to Telluride, Colorado which would end up being the first of 7 cities that I lived in until I landed in Austin, Texas. During my time in these 7 different cities, I worked in every position you can in the restaurant industry and I was hooked, this is what I was going to do.
All the restaurants I have been a part of support a farm to table concept and I want to remain true to that by supporting what these farmers do for us. I started out with a vision of trying to sell organic New Mexico breakfast burritos in Telluride, Colorado. This is where it all started and would later become the foundation to building my career. After working in numerous restaurants all around Colorado’s mountain resorts I had the opportunity to move to NY where I first started to hone in my skills in the kitchen. I worked under Chef Roy Whalers of South Edison Restaurant in Montauk, NY where he practiced sea to table dining as well as being true to farm to table. It was then that I decided to go to culinary school in Austin, Texas to pursue my vision of being a great cook. After school I immediately started working for Bryce Gilmore of Odd Duck Restaurant, which is where I fell in love with cooking from scratch.
Through my travels I have gained exponential knowledge in multiple different styles of cooking. Although restaurant cooking is a much different animal, the thing I still love most is cooking at home where I can take my time and truly enjoy what I am doing. Being a private chef in Austin is what I had always dreamed of, I just didn’t know it yet!
Chef Anthony Nicaj
Majored In English Literature // Walked Across America // Aspires to cook at eleven madison park //
Anthony Nicaj started cooking professionally about eight years ago in Austin, Texas. He grew up on Long Island, New York and studied English literature in college. He worked as an English tutor, journalist, and editorial assistant for a few years and traveled the states by foot afterwards. He moved to Austin to be closer to his sister and fell into the culinary field by chance. After many roles in different restaurants, food trucks, and catering companies, he decided to start Gather and Forge with his friend Ryan Francis. Anthony's influences include Jacques Pepin, Anthony Bourdain, and Daniel Humm. His cooking style is based in New Southwestern cuisine although he tends to lean Asian and Mediterranean. His favorite thing to cook is anything for a loved one and he is continually ravenous in both knowledge and appetite.
Chef Aya HasegawA
Born in New Jersey // Driven by Freshness // Exceptionally Hard-Working // Loves Asian-Fusion
North-East native, wanderluster, music lover, bowling enthusiast, and vegetable lover!
After graduating from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Communications, I went on to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in New York City. NGI focuses on healthful food preparation—mindful of nutritious ingredients—while encouraging food's seasonality. The study of these fundamentals led me to an internship at Ninety Acres in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey. Two weeks into my internship, Chef David Felton and Martin Kester hired me. At Ninety-Acres, I learned the simplicity of farm-to-table cuisine while pulling elements from various ethnicities, using both traditional and modern cooking techniques.
After two years of learning everything from pastry to butchering, I decided to take a three-month culinary adventure to South East Asia. While in Vietnam, I received an e-mail from Chef Kester, inviting me to be his Sous Chef at the yet-to-be-open Summit House in Summit, New Jersey. While anticipating the restaurant’s opening, I kept busy with various freelance positions: catering, giving cooking lessons and serving as a personal chef to various clients. I especially enjoyed working in the catering department for Housing Works, a program that advocates funding for homeless individuals with HIV/AIDS. However, what I really fell in love with was cooking for families in their homes and helping those with special dietary needs. I pride myself in my diversity, to which I credit my parents. My mom grew up in North Carolina and my dad in Kyoto, Japan. Thus, at a very early age, I developed a palate for bold flavors and fragrant spices of various cuisines. I value what I learned at home, where both parents cooked.
Fast-forward a year and a half. I was promoted to the Head Chef position at Summit House. Taking this opportunity to transition into a new role and create a different menu that expressed my personal love for seasonal, vegetable-driven food, I enjoyed the creative freedom. Yet, I found myself desiring a new atmosphere. Becoming weary of the late nights and stress-riddled days, I followed my belief in a healthy lifestyle and strove to get back to that.
I came to Austin and fell in love. Within a month of visiting, I made the decision to move to Texas and change jobs. I wanted to pursue being a full-time personal chef. I am so thankful that I learned under very talented mentors, in fast-paced restaurant kitchens, and gained the discipline and organizational skills needed. I am pursuing my passion: preparing food that is simple, fresh, flavorful, and healthy!
Chef Chase Gintner
Born in Wisconsin // Learned from Dairy Queen // 30 under 30 Winner // Loves Quick Wit
Cooking isn't rocket surgery, it should be fun! That's why it's apart of me. I love the corkyness, passion, integrity, drive, willingness to win, proud mindsets of the teachers and students (we all are both) in the hospitality industry amazing! I feel right at home with anyone that cares enough about the industry to call it a career, wheather we have shared countless hours together in a restaurant or just a cold beer after a long day, we are all brothers and sisters in this industry. We are all a little crazy in here that's when we are in here.
"If you're going to be crazy, you need to get paid for it else you're going to get locked up!”
— Hunter S. Thompson
"Which girl am I?! Crispies or freshies?”
— Chase Gintner
"I love long walks on the beach, odd numbers and SCREAMING IN THE WALK-IN!!"
— Chase Gintner
Well sweeping the floor...
"Going to sweep you off your feet, just like the first time we met.”
— Chase Gintner
"Can't all be winners kid. What would they do with losers like us?!"
— Chase Gintner
"You know what Ana? I hate you way less then most people."
— Chase Gintner
"Be-hinding you with my be-hinders"
— Chase Gintner
"Right hearing you with my ears"
— Chase Gintner
Chef Daniel Wayne Bruce
Born in Louisiana // Raised in Michigan // Cultured in North Carolina // A lifelong journey driven by great food
Kirby's Salsa — Brighton, MI
Kathryn's Bistro — Emerald Isle, NC
Vintage 50 — Leesburg, VA
Barley Swine — Austin, TX
It all starts with a conversation…
On a tiny island in North Carolina Kathryn’s Bistro and Martini Bar would be my first taste into what would become a fifteen year, and counting, endeavor. I began washing dishes, as everyone should I suppose, it was a right of passage. Thirteen years were spent in savory kitchens with a focus on chef tasting menus. Two years were dedicated to baking and pastry, a lifelong passion and new best friend, and ya know, I love it all!! Tasting menus, meshing sweet and savory, coursed dinners with cool fun whimsical bites are my absolute favorite. It is a privilege to do what we do as chefs, creating dishes, bending the rules, playing with fire and flavors. Passion is the lifeblood of our craft and with so many amazing ingredients and ways to bring them to the table I have an endless opportunity to share and create, fun whimsical and modern, dishes. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana raised in Brighton, Michigan cultured in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, I am lucky to have called these places home alongside Leesburg, Virginia and now Austin, Texas.