Style + Living

Interview with Chef John & Brandon of The Noble Pig

September 21, 2011

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To be honest, I wasn’t too interested when I was first approached by PR about The Noble Pig. I figured “eh, another sandwich shop in Austin?” But when I noticed that the chef/owners were from the Corpus Christi area that intrigued me. I’m grew up in Port Lavaca, which is a hour away from Corpus, so I was interested in the two gentlemen who came to Austin to specialize in sandwiches.

Chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez did not set out to make sandwiches. Not at first, anyway. But over an egg salad on white one afternoon at a popular Austin lunch spot, Bates had an “A ha” moment, a shelved idea for his own restaurant summoned from that place in his mind’s eye where so many chefs store their dream concepts.

“I thought, OK I should open up a sandwich shop, do something different, out of the ordinary” says Bates. And so, Noble Pig was born filling a void in Austin’s sandwich universe. They cure all of their own meats, bake their bread in-house, make their own condiments, pickles, relish, desserts…Everything is from scratch.

Across America-from New York to Chicago to Seattle- every city has a delicatessen where pastrami sandwiches or homemade rye bread are legends in their own right. Bates and Martinez emulate these celebrated places but with their own style, looking through an Austinite’s lens.

Bates and Martinez spent time honing their craft at celebrated restaurants across the country including Aquello in San Francisco and Wink in Austin. Applying these ideas and techniques in a sandwich shop environment gives Noble Pig a diverse and interesting menu filled with delicious, inspired ingredients and combinations.

“You’ve got these amazing people who know how to make things, who know how to run restaurants, changing their focus from fine-dining and offering that kind of care and craftsmanship in something casual. I was like well, I could do that with a sandwich,” says Bates.

And they are a sandwich shop, yes, but it’s simplistic to say they’re “just” a sandwich shop. “The amount of work and effort that goes into what we do, and the combination of the things- You know we try to present ourselves in a very casual way, but we make about 95% of what comes out of Noble Pig from scratch, there’s nothing casual about our approach or our dedication to the food.” says Bates.

From the bread to the pickles to the meats cured in house, Martinez and Bates are dedicated to the artisan sandwich. All of the condiments are made from scratch, as are the desserts- puddings, jams cookies and tarts.

John Bates. Owner/Chef

Prior to launching the Noble Pig in September 2010, John was involved with two well-known Austin restaurants, as a sous chef at Wink and then as the executive chef at Asti Trattoria for 2 ½ years. John attended culinary school at Del Mar College in his native Corpus Christi, graduating in 2000, and credits his work in a variety of restaurants since 1991 in helping him to refine his culinary skills and define his approach. Determined to fill a culinary void in Austin, he teamed up with longtime friend Brandon Martinez to create the Noble Pig, where, as he puts it, “with a dedication to artisan cooking craftsmanship, you can make almost anything you want”.

Brandon Martinez. Owner/Chef

Brandon got his start early, working with his grandparents for their famed Corpus Christi catering company Wilman’s Catering. He went on to prepare for his professional culinary career by training at the New England Culinary Institute, graduating in 2002. After graduation, Martinez’ experience included stops at the Inn at the Anasazi, a Santa Fe resort hotel, and Aquarello, a Michelin-recognized Italian restaurant in San Francisco. While looking for a project to reflect his commitment to craftsman ship and food, Martinez joined forces with culinary school peer and friend John Bates to create the Noble Pig.

Read more on A Taste of Koko’s visit to The Noble Pig..

The Noble Pig
11815 620 N. Suite 4
Austin, TX 78750
Ph 512-382-624
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Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.