After careers in real estate and on Wall Street, native Austinite Kevin Williamson chose a career in cooking. His work included cooking in La Jolla, New York City, and Aspen. While in Aspen, he worked for the famed Ajax Tavern at the base of Aspen Mountain with chefs Michael Chiarello and Nick Morfogen. During his tenure at Aspen’s Ajax Tavern, Williamson honed skills and decided he wanted to own his own restaurant.
Chef Williamson returned to his hometown of Austin in 1996 where he first worked as Chef for the original Central Market, a leader in destination fresh markets, specializing in prep-less produce and chef-prepared meals for people passionate about food.
In 1998, Williamson opened his own unique restaurant, Ranch 616, a South Texas-style icehouse reminiscent of his many years hunting and fishing in South Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. It was at these ice houses where Williamson was served his finest meals and made many memories, inspiring him to create a town gathering spot similar for local Austinites. At Ranch 616, Williamson combines the flavors of the Gulf Coast with the spices of the border towns of Texas. As quoted by Texas Monthly Magazine, “If there was a Texas-style diner in Manhattan, it would be Ranch 616.”
Ranch 616 and Chef Williamson have won numerous wards, from his sugar cure rub to his legendary fried oysters voted Southern Living Magazine’s “Best in the South” for three consecutive years.
Williamson has served as the President of the Austin Restaurant Association, and as the President of the Saveur Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, a position he held for the past five years. He is current spokesperson and chef for the Texas Beef Council, and also promotes Texas’ Gulf Coast oysters and shrimp on behalf of the Texas Department of Agriculture. He has traveled extensively with the Texas Department of Agriculture promoting the bounties of Texas – from Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, New York City’s Fancy Food Show, to all over the great state.
Williamson traveled to Nantucket, Massachusetts as the featured chef for the Nantucket Wine and Food Festival. There, he kicked off the festival with a seminar called, “Where’s the beef?” Soon after, Williamson traveled to Tokyo, Japan as the spokesperson for the Southern United States Travel Association, the largest food show in Tokyo. At the show Williamson prepared various pecan dishes daily and presented them in English and Japanese.
Most recently, Williamson is a co-owner of Star Bar and The Rattle Inn with Matt Luckie.