Restaurateur & Chef
Shawn Cirkiel’s creativity and innovation in the kitchen have made him one of Austin’s most coveted chefs and restaurateurs. Five years ago, Cirkiel opened parkside—the city’s first gastro pub which is housed in a converted two-story space on East 6th Street—to much fanfare. The accolades continue on for this sophisticated spot, as they do for Cirkiel’s subsequent ventures: the backspace, a widely popular Neapolitan-style pizzeria, and olive & june, an updated version of family-style Southern Italian dining. Cirkiel’s passion for local and seasonal food extends beyond the scope of his restaurants and has become a driving force behind his notable community engagement.
As a child growing up on a farm, Cirkiel learned early on the integral role fresh ingredients play in cooking. He took that core knowledge with him to the Culinary Institute of America, where he refined his skills and style and developed an even deeper appreciation for sustainable food. He soon landed a job at New York’s Café Boulud and then moved to Napa Valley to work in the kitchen at the esteemed Domaine Chandon. An entrepreneur by nature, Cirkiel moved to Austin to embark on his own endeavor—he took over as the owner/chef of the city’s beloved Jean-Luc’s Bistro. It didn’t take long for devotees to realize Cirkiel was very talented. His success spilled over to parkside, the backspace, and his latest venture, olive & june, named for his grandmother and his wife’s grandmother. Inspiration for the many classic Italian dishes came from the family dinners Cirkiel enjoyed as a child in the Italian-American neighborhood of the South Bronx, where Cirkiel’s father was raised.
Cirkiel’s devotion to smart (sustainable) cooking and the community is evident by his involvement in many projects, including an initiative at Austin’s Highland Park Elementary, where he has helped develop healthy-eating, exercise, and gardening programs. Cirkiel is also a founding chef of the Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers Market in downtown and a board member and secretary for the Sixth Street Austin Association, which has been fundamental in raising funds to restore the legendary district. And while the chef maintains a high profile around town and in the media—he’s been noted in numerous publications, including Southern Living, Food Arts, Cooks Illustrated, Bon Appetit and the Los Angeles Times—Cirkiel doesn’t stay out of the kitchen for long.
Director of Operations
Harlan Scott has a keen understanding of how to make a restaurant successful from the ground up. Scott is the Director of Operations of Parkside Projects, which includes popular Sixth Street gastro pub, parkside, the backspace, a Neapolitan-style pizzeria, and olive & june, an homage to family-style Southern Italian dining. Scott has elevated the restaurants’ service standards to that of their award-winning food – an enormous challenge in a fast-paced, casual-dining environment.
While Scott has helped many good restaurants become truly great since he began in the industry in his early twenties, his work with Chef Cirkiel is his biggest accomplishment to date. He credits his success to surrounding himself with good people, who all enjoy working with one another. By finding the best talent in the restaurant industry, Scott ensures not only that his operational programs can flourish, but that Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s philosophy rings true throughout each restaurant: everybody leaves happy. Indeed, his dynamic caliber of service has become the perfect complement to Chef Cirkiel’s celebrated Austin restaurants.