About three years ago, we went to a non-profit fund raiser and bought a dinner for 8 in our home prepared by a private chef who had generously donated this auction item. We invited three other couples and reserved a night when the chef could cook in our home. We supplied the wine and the chef supplied the food. Chef Ian arrived along with his chocolatier/pastry chef wife, Krystal, and created an unforgettable feast of fresh ingredients blended to perfection. Our guests raved about our evening together.
We learned that this young couple planned to open their own Austin restaurant. Later, they invited us to another dinner in Austin where they cooked for a larger group. Again, a superb meal. In 2018, Ian and Krystal saw their dream come true when they opened Intero in an east Austin location that previously housed a motorcycle repair shop.
Intero is an Italian word that means ‘whole’ or ‘full.’ Ian buys mainly local vegetables and meats himself. He forms relationships with his suppliers and understands the entire food chain. His creative menus change often because he does not want to waste food.
One has to read the ingredients before deciding what to order as there are always gems within the details. When we first ate there, the restaurant was almost filled on a weekday evening, a testimony to their culinary skills and positive reviews. In 2019, Texas Monthly magazine listed Intero as #5 Best Restaurant in Texas – no surprise to us. We took close friends there for a birthday celebration and asked Ian to just ‘feed us’ in his private dining area. Each dish was a delightful exploration. As we departed, we purchased Krystal’s chocolates to take home.
Life has suddenly changed. We are in ‘stay-home’ mode due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since March 16th, we only go outside to exercise, buy groceries, or pick up prescriptions. Our family and friends Zoom us from afar. I do household chores, spring cleaning, and book research to fill the time. We live on a pension and don’t need to work to pay our bills. But what about Ian and Krystal and many others like them? Their dream of owning their own restaurant business succeeded but like many businesses catering to groups of people, their once thriving business is now in survival mode.
Last Saturday, we drove to the east side of Austin and parked at their restaurant. We called them and they brought the pre-ordered food to our car. We also purchased a future dinner for 6 people to give them some cash flow to help keep the restaurant going. They have rent and utilities to pay just to keep the restaurant in-place until the city returns to normality. They also have their own personal bills to pay. Their vocational dream is now in peril from circumstances not of their own making. To make matters worse, they cannot be employed at another restaurant because all are in the same situation.
So what will they do? Ian conducts video cooking classes for customers who are now staying home. If you can’t go to his restaurant, he cooks virtually. Krystal continues to make chocolates and they serve wonderful take-out food. We will certainly support them. They always greet us warmly. Ian and Krystal served us and now it is our time to serve them. As Christians, we are called to uplift our community.
Last Thanksgiving week, we attended an evening cooking class in their restaurant kitchen. Ian taught a small group how to prepare holiday side dishes, then Ian and Krystal ate with the group. Each couple was asked how they met, and we heard romantic stories which brought laughter and longing looks. Ian said that after he met Krystal, he was not going to let her go. He was hooked from the beginning. I glanced at Krystal and could see from her eyes that she wasn’t going anywhere without Ian. A young and talented couple fell in love and dreamed large. My prayer is that the Austin community supports this couple enough to keep their dreams alive.