Introducing Our SAVOR Lounge Chefs

In addition to early seating at cooking demos and wine seminars, early access to each day’s Grand Tasting, entry to the epic Rock Your Taco and Taste Of Texas evening events, guests with a SAVOR Pass enjoy the comfort of a dedicated Savor Lounge — complete with private food and drink tastings throughout the day. Meet the chefs who will be serving below!

Lance Kirkpatrick

Lance Kirkpatrick, Pitmaster at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin, got his start in the craft of smoking meat working the pits under the guidance of Bobby Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas.

Lance, a Taylor, Texas native, trained under the late Bobbie Mueller for over 9 years where he honed his skills as a true barbecue craftsman. The craft of smoking meat over a wood fired pit, is a tradition that requires attention to time honored techniques day in and day out, which Lance practices 6 days a week at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin, Texas.

Miguel Vidal

Miguel has spent the last 17 years in the service industry where he has taken his family values and applied them to the work environment. Credit is given to his tightly knit family who prides themselves on cooking great food for every occasion, along with Ranch 616 which he has called his home away from home for the past 12 years.

The Vidal family strongly encourages passion and love for family and friends. It has been a long-standing family tradition to BBQ at family get togethers, where every family member plays a role in creating the menu and preparing the made from scratch foods. Fresh hand-rolled flour tortillas, fresh salsa, avocado, lime and cilantro are a family favorite when it comes to accompanying the Bar-B-Q, and Miguel brings this spirit to Valentina’s.

Prior to this, he has managed and operated Ranch 616, which is the heart of Austin, for the past seven years where he has developed high expectations for service and a passion for great cuisine.

Chad Dolezal

Co-owner and chef of The Hightower, Chad grew up in his family’s kitchen in Dallas, TX. As a child, he was exposed to his grandfather and mother’s rustic meals and was fascinated by each of their preeminent cooking skills, thus exposing Dolezal to a wide spectrum of cuisines at a young age. As a result, Dolezal was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary world.

In pursuit of his dream, Dolezal traveled across the globe, acquiring culinary skills and seeking exposure to the culinary industry. He lived in San Diego, and shortly thereafter, moved to Portland, OR, where he studied at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. While training for his craft, he worked at the Portland City Grill and at the Everett Street Bistro, a French restaurant formerly located in the Pearl District. In spite of his admiration for the northwest, he took a chance and made a change in scenery.

Dolezal relocated to France, where he staged at La Gentilhommière in Nuits-Saint-Georges. When Dolezal left France, he went back to his family roots in Texas, this time moving to Austin, where he enrolled at St. Edward’s University and received his bachelor’s degree in communications. With determination and passion for his success in the culinary industry, Dolezal continued perfecting his craft and secured an executive chef position at the now closed, El Arbol in Austin. After El Arbol, Dolezal partnered up with the restaurant’s general manager, Victor Farnsworth, and the makings of The Hightower began, named in honor of Dolezal’s late mother, the woman who started it all.

As the executive chef and co-owner of The Hightower with friend and partner Farnsworth, Dolezal is able to execute each of his culinary skills acquired in his travels and experiences. Often described by friends as a loyal and sometimes opinionated individual, Dolezal considers himself to have a diligent persona, strongly passionate about all things.

When Dolezal is not in the kitchen creating signature dishes or finalizing operations at The Hightower, he can be found spending time with his wife and child. Dolezal now calls Austin home, particularly enjoying its family-oriented atmosphere.

John Lichtenberger

A member of the second graduating class from the French Culinary Institute (FCI) in New York, and with a serious amount of French restaurant experience under his belt, no one is better suited to execute simple, yet elegant French fare than head chef of Péché, John Lichtenberger. Born in Brooklyn, and raised in Queens, NY, Lichtenberger always enjoyed watching his family and grandmother craft simple, delicious food. And while Lichtenberger’s business degree lent him the skill set he uses daily in his life as a head chef, his preference to being in the kitchen to sitting behind a desk ultimately jumpstarted his culinary passion.

Upon graduating from the FCI in 1985, Lichtenberger was part of the opening team at Le Bernardin, starting out as a commis de cuisine, where he came to learn the definition of perfection. He was fortunate enough to work with Gilbert Lecoz, chef de cuisine Eberhard Müller and sous chef Dominick Cerrone in developing the menu. He left Le Bernardin as a chef de partie, and went on to work at Rose Café and 5th Avenue Ballroom, a restaurant and catering facility, where frequent patrons included Lou Reed, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. He also worked at an Italian supper jazz club called Zinnos and the West Bank Café in the Theatre District. Before making the move to the great state of Texas, Lichtenberger worked at Chez Josephine, owned by an eccentric character named Jean Claude Parker, an adopted son of the late beautiful French entertainer, Josephine Baker.

In Austin, Lichtenberger worked as the opening chef at Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood, TX, curing meats and making fresh gelato and pasta. During his tenure the restaurant received many awards, including his personal honor from Best Chefs in America, the title of “Best Chef” in 2013. Now acting as head chef at Péché, Lichtenberger has brought his years of culinary experience, as well as his enjoyment of mentoring and teaching others, to the kitchen. As for his own mentors who inspire him, he counts his friend David Mackey, a brilliant and gentle being whose analytical mind Lichtenberger admires; Steve Meyers, the chef and partner at Sarabeth’s who he worked with at Le Benardin, who always lent a sympathetic ear to Lichtenberger throughout the chaos that is the culinary world; and trusted friend Ian Green, who possesses a wise and kind soul.

When not in the Péché kitchen, Lichtenberger loves to read, be it the classics or metaphysics, try new food, drink good wine and enjoy fine cigars. He has been married to his loving and understanding wife Carla for 29 years (100 in restaurant years, according to Lichtenberger), who has been his partner in life’s journey and throughout his career. Their three daughters all live in New York, and he and his wife currently live with their two dogs and two rescued cats. Lichtenberger thoroughly enjoys the vibe of Austin and is always amazed by how much it feels like New York.

Henri’s Cheese

Henri’s Cheese & Wine, located in the heart of the South Lamar restaurant district, offers a unique selection of artisanal cheese and charcuterie, both imported and locally made. We have a distinct wine list for you to enjoy by the glass or bottle in our European bistro-style café, or to take home and share with loved ones. Our craft beer selections are hand-picked and sure to satisfy any palate.

Henri’s now also offers private parties, public classes, and catering opportunities. Think of us for your next party or gathering, and let our experts help you with all of the details to make your next event simply perfect.

Henri’s offers a daily lunch menu comprised of gourmet sandwiches, salads, and soup specials. Our Parrano grilled cheese sandwich has received many accolades, so come in and see what all the hype is about!