Executive Chef Josh Watkins brings a new dimension to simplified elegance through a unique combination of ingredients and a blend of contemporary and classical cooking techniques. Though a native Austinite, Watkins went to school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. His time in San Francisco included being a part of one of Reed Heron’s restaurant openings after another, Rose Pistola, earned the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award. Inspired by the wealth of high quality, fresh, local produce and seafood San Francisco had to offer, Watkins decided to bring the same elevated dining experience back home.
Returning to Texas, Watkins first worked under Chef William Koval at the French Room in the Adolphus Hotel, nationally recognized as the best restaurant in Dallas by publications such as The New York Times and Bon Appétit magazine.
Making the move back to Austin, Watkins joined the culinary team at the historic Driskill Grill under the tutelage of nationally acclaimed chef David Bull. By the age of 23, Watkins earned the Chef de Cuisine position and later made an appearance on Food Network’s Iron Chef America alongside Bull where they battled celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He also accompanied Chef Bull to the James Beard House in New York City and the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. In 2007, Watkins was named executive chef of the Driskill Grill and earned the establishment a consecutive five-star rating. Chef Watkins’ passion for farm fresh, ingredient-driven food led him to open The Carillon Restaurant at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in June of 2008. His unique approach to traditional foods and emphasis on using local, sustainable ingredients has caught the attention of food critics across the state, including the Austin American Statesman’s respected food critic, Mike Sutter. Sutter gave the restaurant a well-earned four-star rating.