2012 Rising Star Chef Andrew Wiseheart’s got a resume full of adventure. From the more innocent dangers of eating his father’s culinary experiments to the rugged thrills of working a ranch and hitchhiking his way through Europe, Wiseheart brings that electric element of risk and reward to his perspective as a chef.
Not that his perspective doesn’t have solid foundational groundings. Wiseheart’s San Angelo, Texas, childhood was centered in his family kitchen, where—when he wasn’t the only one brave enough to sample his father’s cooking—Wiseheart absorbed early lessons in cuisine. And it was there that Wiseheart found a balance of structure and innovation that inspired him to become a chef.
Wiseheart pursued that inspiration at Austin’s Le Cordon Bleu, solidifying his grasp of formal techniques. But it wasn’t until he hit the road, getting experience behind the line at restaurants in Napa Valley, that Wiseheart’s training began to solidify. Working at La Toque, which earned a Michelin star during Wiseheart’s tenure, and Angèle, where he prepared French comfort food, the young chef earned a confidence that eventually propelled him to Europe. Thumbing rides from Modena, Italy, to Slovenia (where he began walking), and taking two trips to Croatia (where he harvested grapes and learned the crafts of making olive oil and masonry), Wiseheart’s European tour was thoroughly hands-on.
Now firmly ensconced back in his Texas homeland, world-traveler Wiseheart combines the lessons of his youth, work, and travels at Contigo, the ranch-based restaurant he opened with partner (and childhood camp mate) Ben Edgerton. The restaurant menu not only reflects Wiseheart’s seasoned palate, but it also speaks directly to his ranch-hand’s appreciation for integrity of product, and a Texan’s passion for the next culinary adventure.