Today marks two years to the day since Austin Elsborg started roasting beets, wizarding ambrosial barbecue sauce for pork and turning out some of the finest tavern food in Colorado at Bramble & Hare. All from a kitchen the size of a food truck.
The anniversary is bittersweet. Tonight is Austin’s last night at Bramble. The bitter part, of course, is we hate to see him go. And the sweet part: He is setting off on a course of personal and career enrichment, hunting for inspiration and experience with different aspects of the food world. In addition, Austin is attending school to become a massage therapist.
Austin, 24, grew up in Boulder and graduated from Boulder High School before embarking on his career in food, but his passion for the world of sharp knives, heat and mountains of diced onions began as a kid. His Boulder family — mom, dad, brother and grandmother — savors an enormous love for the pleasures of the table. The family cooks most nights and eats together, and vacations often revolve around things culinary. It all sunk in with Austin, who began working in kitchens in high school and after graduating worked for the Chautauqua Dining Hall and The French Twist, a food truck, before taking the job at Bramble.
Among other things, Austin thinks Bramble’s and Black Cat’s deep commitment to serving food from the restaurants’ farm — the biodynamic and organic operation raises more than 250 varieties of vegetables, herbs, grains and legumes, as well as heritage pork and lamb — will stick with him throughout his career.
“The farm connection is one of the things that drew me in and kept in here for so long,” said Austin as he was chopping carrots on Tuesday afternoon, prepping for the night of guests. “The high quality of the ingredients. The ethics. It’s all extraordinary interesting and unique. The ingredients simply speak for themselves.”
The restaurant’s true farm-to-table approach presents challenges — ones he embraces.
“I get to work with carrots for six months. Corn for just weeks. Cooks in other restaurants use whatever ingredients they want, year-round. But then they lose the special qualities of an in-season carrot or ear of corn,” he said. When it comes to understanding these special qualities of farm-fresh food, as well as things like meat from Mulefoot hogs — the flavor is sublime, far superior to pork bought from stores or shipped from distribution centers — Austin says he now is “spoiled.”
Please swing by Bramble tonight for Austin’s farewell. And wish him well! Austin is a true culinary talent, and a heckuva’ great guy. We look forward to following his adventures.