El Alma Cafe y Cantina, Austin
EXECUTIVE CHEF ALMA ALCOCER’S STORY
Originally from Mexico City, Chef Alma Alcocer came to Austin in 1989 by way of Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Paris. After lending her skills to a brief stint in catering, Alma found herself working at a nationally-recognized fine dining restaurant, Jeffrey’s, in Austin. Under celebrated Chef David Garrido’s skillful hand, Alma thrived in his collaborative environment that encouraged team input on the regularly evolving menu. Alma quickly moved through the kitchen from sous chef to executive chef upon Garrido’s departure.
In 2009, Alma left Jeffrey’s to work as Chef de Cuisine for Chef Miguel Ravago of the famed interior Mexican restaurant, Fonda San Miguel. Alma’s world-class training fit seamlessly into the most accomplished Mexican restaurant in Texas. Alma enjoyed showcasing the flavors of Mexican cuisine with fresh produce from the restaurant garden as well as other local ingredients.
Longtime friend, Carlos Rivero, asked Alma to join the team of Austin Tex-Mex favorite, El Chile. After working together, it quickly became evident to both that a restaurant of Alma’s own was long overdue. The two crafted a plan to create a concept that would blend her classical training with her Mexico City roots for a homespun take on authentic Mexican dishes, and El Alma was born.
Today, Alma can be found at her flagship El Alma developing new creations for the restaurant menu as well as executing the restaurant groups’ rapidly growing catering and events program.
1025 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
Q&A WITH ALMA ALCOCER
Story Plate: What are your top three go-to restaurants in your hometown?
Alma Alcocer: We live in North Austin so we go to Home Slice Pizza, Upper crust bakery, El Dorado Cafe (it’s actually the only takeout we do consistently) Biderman’s for lox and bagels, and on a very special occasion it doesn’t get better than Uchiko
SP: What’s a must-have or your favorite kitchen item and why?
AA: There are some things that I take for granted that I have always had in my kitchen because I cook professionally, a good knife, a set of mixing bowls, a heavy pan, and a stock pot. But if I were to tell you what you will love having, it would have to be a good blender (AKA a Vitamix)
SP: Who/what inspired you to get into the culinary industry?
AA: I have always loved to cook so looking at my grandmother, she cooked herself. And the encouragement of my parents. “Learn a trade you like and work hard at it.”
SP: What is your favorite thing that you like to cook for yourself at home and why?
AA: I sometimes make pasta, it’s relaxing and I just love plain pasta with tomatoes from our garden or basil pesto, and if I’m feeling very fancy I’ll add scallops- that is my all-time favorite seafood
SP: If you didn’t choose to go down this career path, what would plan B have been for you?
AA: I would have loved to be a professional athlete, but I have no ability for any sport, but seriously I think I did consider being a special education teacher.
SP: How do you manage stress, what advice can you give your fellow girl bosses?
AA: I work out, take time to enjoy my family, and sometimes just let go. As for advice, don’t take yourself too seriously, learn to put yourself in other people’s shoes and plan ahead so you have solid footing when making decisions.