Inside Staff Meal at Contigo: Southern Brunch

by Katherine Sacks
Shannon Sturgis
February 2012

Biography

Chef Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo - Austin, TX

Restaurant

Contigo
2027 Anchor Lane
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 614-2260

Staff Meal Details

Chef Andrew Wiseheart weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
I try to keep it under $20 a day, and sometimes I can come in way under, so that allows me to go over on other days.

Size of staff meal:
15 to 30 people

Time of staff meal:
4pm

Worst staff meal:
Pasta 10 days in a row.

Favorite staff meal ever:
Sushi at La Toque

In a Texas town known for its boozy benders, brunch is vital and venerated. It’s equally primed to soak up an Austin drinkin’ weekend for diners and satiate the hungry bellies of hard-working restaurant crews. Which is why, after the craze of Sunday brunch, the team at 2012 Austin Rising Star Chef Andrew Wiseheart’s Contigo replenishes with the same energy-packed cuisine that customers enjoyed earlier in the morning: leftover posole, house-made cinnamon buns, and biscuits and gravy.

Contigo staff digs into biscuits and gravy for staff meal
Contigo's staff digs into biscuits and gravy (and salad).

And while this calorie-packed refueling session is a necessity for any dedicated kitchen hand, staff meal at the ranch-based Contigo is relatively new. Although Wiseheart and co-owner Ben Edgerton talked about providing staff meal when they opened in May, it wasn’t until the New Year that the chef started preparing the 4pm meal. On one hand, it was the right time to power up. But part of their motivation was plain old business smarts: “At the end of the night, everyone started ordering food,” says Wiseheart. “It added a lot of time for the kitchen to break down.”

Taking a quick staff meal break before dinner service at Contigo Taking a quick staff meal break before dinner service at Contigo.

Wiseheart also knows the value of a shared meal. “It goes a long way, and people appreciate it,” he says. “It’s a good time to get everyone together before we’re very busy. It’s a nice calm before the storm.” Keeping costs down (he utilizes scraps and spends roughly $140 per week on other items), Wiseheart now offers a daily meal featuring everything from hot dogs to gotta-love-it taco night and, on weekends, the delicious detritus of a successful brunch. The added bonus: with staff meal at 4pm, the crew has stopped making delirious late-night orders, meaning the kitchen can close up shop as soon as the last ticket clears their board. “Shifts in the restaurant business are usually long and grueling,” Wiseheart points out. “I want to make sure everybody gets fed.” Fed, and out of work at a decent hour: a double-helping of staff meal perks.
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