I’ve been bursting with excitement to unveil the series we’ve been working on with our newest contributor, Elizabeth Winslow. I first got to know Elizabeth when we collaborated on this feature of her gorgeous home, and I could immediately tell from her warmth, creativity and unbelievably vast cookbook selection that she was a foodie soulmate…and definitely a person I needed to do more projects with. When she recently launched her newest venture, Haymakers, to provide resources and inspiration to food entrepreneurs, it seemed the perfect time. Elizabeth (and her husband Thomas, behind the lens!) will be stopping by the blog bi-weekly to share the stories behind the most inspiring food artisans, distillers, retailers, farmers, restauranteurs, bakers, chefs, tastemakers, and innovators. She’s kicking it off with one of my absolute favorite spots in Austin: Fresa’s. I won’t give too much away (click through Thomas’s incredible photos for all the details) but suffice it to say that I’ve been known to eat Fresa’s chargrilled chicken and salty cajeta ice cream 3 times in one week. (Let’s keep that our little secret).
Elizabeth: When my babies were tiny, the last thing that was happening to me was epiphany. But for Margaret Vera, those too-busy days and sleepless nights of new motherhood brought necessity and invention. “I was way too busy to cook, so I sent my husband out for chicken al carbon,” a Tex Mex standby of charcoal-grilled chicken with charred onions and peppers. “He set the bag on the table in front of me and I looked at it and said, ‘I know what I’m going to do next!’” and Fresa’s, the chicken al carbon drive-through she opened with partners Larry McGuire, Tom Moorman and Tracy Overath was born.
We love Fresa’s for its commitment to the highest-quality ingredients, delicious handmade salsas, sides, tortillas and ice creams, and its whimsical and inspired design details. We also love the way a trip through the drive-through window can offer us time and space for our own epiphanies or easy pieces for slightly-more-involved dinners — think market rotisserie chicken done much better by partner Larry McGuire’s deft touch with citrus-achiote or black pepper-oregano marinade.
We catch up with Margaret in the lull between breakfast tacos and full-on lunch rush to talk inspiration, innovation and how she manages to do it all with such style and grace.
What was your first job?
Working for my stepmother at her catering company in Houston. I would work during the holidays, 12-15 hour days, seven days a week. Catering is a great place to start. The time constraints are different than a restaurant. And large parties gave me opportunities to practice a technique over and over. I would press 400 tart shells, clean multiple cases of softshell crabs. We made crudite baskets everyday.
What’s in your fridge right now?
I have a 4-year old. We have milk, not exactly sexy.
I love vinegars, all of them.
Tell your brand story in five words.
Ethical. Convenient. Healthy. Fresh. Colorful.
How do you measure success?
For me it’s all about sustainable solutions. I hated living in a wood house because it had to be painted every few of years, so I built a stucco house. That’s success. I never have to revisit that issue again.
It’s Wednesday night at 6:30. What’s for dinner?
It’s Wednesday night at 6:30? I’m at the barn riding my horse. But at least three nights a week we eat Fresa’s.
Click here to get the recipe for Elizabeth Winslow’s Weeknight Chicken Pozole
*recipe by Elizabeth Winslow, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Elizabeth Winslow’s Chicken Pozole is an easy but delicious go-to for a weeknight dinner.
Get the recipe for her Weeknight Chicken Pozole here
What inspires you?
Constraints, definitely. I love a project that has a lot of constraints. I think that inspires the most creativity in the team.
What’s your next big idea?
I just want to focus on Fresa’s for a while. It’s such an engaging project with so much growth potential. I’m excited about a few menu changes coming up. I’m looking forward to a Fresa’s Dos where we can have seating. I miss the dining room component, all the adorable stuff: tables, chairs, plates, light fixtures.
see more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers
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Love this post. It’s making me so hungry. Haven’t eaten breakfast yet and now I want chicken for dinner. I’m want to plan a trip to Texas this would be a place I would love to visit.
Elise, come visit us! Fresa’s is the perfect place to experience the Austin vibe.
This series is right up my alley!!!! I have a list of places I want to eat here in Austin, and this one was definitely on it!
Awesome! Would love to hear the highlights of your list.
What a great new feature! It’s 10:00am on the West Coast and I’m sooo hungry after reading that. Suppose that’s the point 😉
I love making people hungry! At least you’re closer to Gjelina than we are . . .
Haha! I’m moving to Austin in the summer and Gjelina is on my bucket list to visit before we leave LA!
Elizabeth, we Austinites realize how lucky we are to have Fresa’s! Stopped by just a few days ago for
our favorite takeout meal in town — fresh, spicy and delicious. and i haven’t even tried the ice cream yet 🙂
Hi Chris–glad to know you love it as much as we do. I can’t wait for you to try the ice cream–seriously delicious (I can highly recommend the salty cajeta. That’s right, I said “salty cajeta.” ‘Nough said!)
I’m an Austinite and had no idea this gem was here! So excited to try someplace new!
Hi Macy–that’s great! Glad to pass on the Fresa’s love–let us know what you think.
We’re visiting Austin this May (for my 30th!) and Fresa is definitely on my list! Any other gems I must see? We’re only there for 3 days and I know I’ll not want to leave! x
You can always come back, we’ll be here! My favorites are La Condesa, East Side Kings, The Peached Tortilla, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Elizabeth St. Cafe, Clark’s, Sway, The Backspace, Contigo, Uchi & Uchiko, what am I forgetting?
Looks delicious! Wish we had one!