The Perfect Austin Duo: Local Sommelier Teams with Seasoned Chef to Spotlight Latest Pairing Evolution

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Forthcoming Fork & Vine taps Sommelier Chris Howell to execute the North Central Austin eatery’s signature beverage and educational program

“The fact that he is a chef himself will not only sky rocket his ability to pair wines with our food, it will also allow for a much deeper collaborative environment.”

Certified Sommelier Chris Howell announced today that he is leaving the popular wine establishment The Grove to join forces in the forthcoming pairings concept, Fork & Vine in North Austin Owners Camden Stuerzenberger, former Executive Chef of South Congress Café and Bess Bistro, and Brendan Puthoff, of Puthoff Holdings, sought to hire someone with deep appreciation and technical knowledge of both cooking and wine. Howell was the perfect fit.

“Having a dedicated Sommelier ensures that we can create the best wine list for our guests and maintain its integrity over time,” said Puthoff. "Chris is a bright, shiny star with a welcoming personality and enthusiasm to connect and create- he'll make Fork & Vine a place where fine dining goes to kick off its shoes and relax after work.”

Aware of each other’s escalating achievements in Austin’s close-knit hospitality world, Howell and Stuerzenberger connected over a shared enthusiasm for pushing the envelope of just how pairing the right foods with the right wines can open new doors to Austin's diners. Said Howell, “It’s a dream come true to work in concert with Chef Camden, and to imagine a menu that allows wine to share the spotlight. I think our guests will be absolutely floored by the food he and his team will be creating!”

Written up in Austin Style Magazine as an “architect of culinary innovations at newer Austin icons,” Chef Stuerzenberger described Howell as, “...a hardworking, passionate individual and his dedication to his craft is second to none.” He continued, “The fact that he is a chef himself will not only sky rocket his ability to pair wines with our food, it will also allow for a much deeper collaborative environment.”

By pairing an Austin-inspired menu with an eclectic offering of wine, champagne, sake and craft beer from around the world, Howell and Stuerzenberger hope to shape their diners' experience through non-traditional pairings.

“Austinites want diversity, not complexity,” said Howell. “By seasonally modifying our 250+ label wine and extensive flight lists to directly complement and pair with a rotating menu of sharable plates, our goal is to connect with both the traditional wine drinker as well as the adventuresome newcomer.”


Influenced by a close-knit, food-focused family, Howell was introduced into the food industry at the young age of thirteen and his passion for culinary knowledge and adventure has never stopped. From his beginnings as a server and bartender, he juggled multiple restaurant jobs through college and earned his stripes as a self-taught cook and caterer. He continually draws inspiration from Southwestern, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, as well as New and Old World style wines.

Howell went on to prove his leadership skills at iconic eateries like Taverna, Manuel’s and The Grove and took his own entrepreneurial leap into the food truck world in 2011. His South Congress trailer, Fat Cactus, has put his specialty Navajo Frybreads on Austin’s growing taco map and earned him a reputation as a top-notch street food vendor.

In 2012, Howell embarked on the journey to formalize his extensive wine background and earned his Certified Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers, the country’s premiere wine education and examining body. He has targeted the Certification of Advanced Sommelier as his next educational goal.


Fork & Vine will set the stage for off-the-grid recipe concoctions linked with eclectic wine and sake flights. Its fresh, approachable sophistication speaks to both the avant garde personality of Austin and the changing landscape of value-conscious wine drinkers. Stuerzenberger and Howell are working in concert to create pairings that reflect their unique personalities and creativity, but offer value at all price levels.

“We’ll definitely challenge our guests and give them new and exciting flavor combinations, but our goal is also to keep everyone comfortable,” said Howell.

Housing a tasting room, modern yet relaxed lounge and bar areas, intimate low-table dining, and both indoor and outdoor patios that overlook Shoal creek, Fork & Vine hopes to become an anchor choice of the Anderson area for both lunch and dinner.

Fork & Vine is slated to open this Fall.

About Fork & Vine:
Fork & Vine Austin Kitchen & Wine Bar is a 240-seat kitchen and wine bar that pairs Austin-inspired cuisine with an incredible selection of world class wine & craft beer in a down-to-earth, feel-good atmosphere. Fork & Vine serves lunch and dinner and features both indoor and outdoor patios and a 250-label wine tasting room. Located in the Creekside Square at Anderson Lane and Shoal Creek Blvd. Address is 3010 West Anderson Lane Austin, Texas 78757. |

SOURCE: Fork & Vine

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Kimberlie Dykeman
since: 05/2014
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