category Kitchen

Worker Spotlight: Matthew Sears

1. What is your position and what do you do at Black Star?

I work in the kitchen. We kind all kind of switch up and cover difference roles, but I do a lot of
line work and some specials.

2. How long have you been cooking and where?

I’ve been cooking for about 6-7 years in different places around town. I heard about Black Star
from Jeff (former Black Star head chef) and thought it sounded interesting with the structure of
the coop and way everyone gets to contribute.

3. Where are you from?

I spent time as a kid in Oceanside, CA, but I was kind of an “army brat” and lived in a lot of
places.

4. How long have you been in Austin, and what is one of your favorite places or things about living
here?

I came to Austin 2007 and studied Photography and Communications at St. Edwards. I played in
a couple bands and eventually found an interest in the food scene. It really seemed to blend my
artistic interests and the more I got into it the more I kind of fell in love with it.

5. What do you enjoy about Black Star Co-op?

Great beer and how the whole vibe aligns with my values. I’ve worked in all types of
restaurants, and I really like the co-op model here at Black Star. I heard about the coop from
Jeff, who told me about how the kitchen team runs things and it sounded interesting, with a lot
of opportunity for real contribution and making a mark.

6. What’s one fun or unusual thing about working at Black Star that is different from other jobs you
had?

If you have something to say you have a voice and a chance to raise your idea or suggestion.
You get a chance to exercise autonomy and to give feedback on how things are working. That’s
unusual in the industry. If you want to do something different, then hey, make a proposal and
bring it up with the team.

7. Do you have a favorite house beer?

I’d say right now Self Esteem or Midtown, also Roze Sap when we have it. My preferences have
changed over time and I still enjoy a wide variety of beers, but tend toward the lighter styles at
the moment.

8. What do you do outside of work with your free time? (Or what do you imagine yourself doing if
pandemic restrictions weren’t still in place?)

I  like to play music and eventually I’d like to do some recording. I play the guitar, as well as
some bass and piano. I also enjoy playing video games. One of my recent favorites is Dark
Souls. There’s a new game coming out from the same publisher that I’m looking forward to
playing called Elden Ring, which was produced in collaboration with George R.R. Martin, the
creator of Game of Thrones. It looks incredible, with fantastic world building and characters.

9. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert at something, what would it be?

I’d really like to become an expert in the Japanese art of butchering yakitori style. There is just a
really interesting and different approach to the way they will cut up, say a chicken, that
produces these really efficient and flavorful cuts with very little waste. It’s a different approach
than a traditional western method for butchery.
I’ve had a longtime interest in both the food and the culture of Japan and would love to travel
there one day. Some of my favorite places in town to get my food fix are Tatsu-Ya and Michi
Ramen. There is also a really great ramen place called Ramen 512 that started as a pop-up but
now has a physical location.

10. Any Last words to the co-op members?

Look forward to more good stuff from the kitchen! As things get more and more stable with the
pandemic business and staffing, I think we will have more interesting things. For instance, the
Basque-style cheesecake that we had recently was my idea and it seems to have gotten a good
reception from the members and customers, which has been gratifying.
Also, if you have feedback for us, let us know. We are always interested to hear from our
members about what they are enjoying or would like to see. We have a lot of good ideas, and
hopefully we can start exploring some of them as things continue to pick up.

Worker Spotlight: Abbie Rose <3

 

 

Last week, Board Director James Farris had the opportunity to sit down with Black Star’s Abbie Rose.

1.    What is your position and what do you do at Black Star?
I’m on the kitchen team and I was elected to the role of Worker
Development earlier this fall.

2.    Where are you from?
I grew up in Boerne, Texas in the Hill Country.

3.    How long have you been in Austin, and what is one of your favorite
places or things about living here?
I moved to Austin after college in 2010, I’d always kind of known that’s
where I was headed and I couldn’t wait to get here. The city has changed
so much but my favorite parts, the natural beauty, the greenbelt and an
abundance of good friends, have mostly stayed the same.

4.    What do you enjoy about Black Star Co-op?
I love all of the people involved, from the workers assembly to the
board of directors to our member owners and regulars, Black Star has
this magnetism that draws some really cool and interesting
personalities. I also love the opportunities this co-op creates for
mentorship, community engagement and experimentation with people-centric
alternatives to standard business practices.

5.    What’s one fun or unusual thing about working at Black Star that
is different from other jobs you’ve had?
I’ve never worked in a kitchen with such a healthy culture of respect,
communication and collaboration. It’s the most refreshing thing to not
have to worry about showing up to a toxic environment every day just
because you love working with food, especially as a woman. The industry
is growing up and we’re starting to see demands for better conditions
and safer work environments across the board with restaurants and I’m so
grateful to be where I am and proud of Black Star for being so ahead of
the curve with that kind of thing. Also just the level at which my input
has had an impact literally from day one never ceases to blow me away,
it’s a very good feeling to know that you have a say in matters at every
level of the organization.

6.    What is your favorite house beer?
I don’t always drink beer but when I do, I drink Self Esteem.

7.    What do you do outside of work with your free time? (Or what do
you imagine yourself doing if pandemic restrictions weren’t still in
place?)
These days I’m more of a homebody than ever before and it’s been nice to
lean into that. I spend most evenings with my fiancé at home, working on
projects, cooking big meals or just hanging out, and spending time with
my family and friends. I keep telling myself I’m going to make room for
painting again but we’ll see when that happens.

8.    The pandemic has limited travel for everyone, but what is one of
your favorite places you visited or trips you have taken in the past? Or
where would you like to go, if you could take a trip anywhere?
My fiancé and I have been talking lately about our dream honeymoon and I
spend a lot of time thinking about that. We want to take a few weeks,
buy Eurail tickets and live on and off the train all over Europe. In our
perfect world we hop on the train, cozy up in a sleeping car and spend
the day wherever we happen to be when we wake up in the morning.
Hopefully the world will heal enough in the next year to make something
like that happen, but either way it’s really nice to think about.

9.    Any Last words to the co-op members?
Just thank you, honestly, thank you so much for supporting us and what
we do here. These last few months have been a real rollercoaster dealing
with staffing and infrastructure problems out of anyone’s control on top
of continued strangeness from Covid times and if we were a different
kind of place we may not have weathered the storms. I love this place
and I want to keep working here for a long long time and it really is
the support and patronage from our member owners that are going to make
that possible, so really, I can’t thank you enough <3

The Fish & Chips Co-NONE-drum

Over the past year at the Co-op I have learned everything there is to know about our fish and chips and the cult-like following that it inspires. The people love it and the people gotta have it and the people feel all of life’s disappointments when the people can’t get it. Because I love fish and chips and I love giving the people what they want, I am here to set the record straight and hopefully put minds at ease.
 Black Drum (Pogonias cromis to be exact) is the flaky white fish we use for this dish. It has a clean, briny flavor and fries well in a wet batter. However, the fish itself is quite sensitive and many variables affect it’s availability and it’s market price. The first factor is how they fish for Black Drum. It must be sport fished (caught with rod & reel), the size must be between 14in-30in, and it is caught using flat-bottom/shallow water boats. They are found in the jetties and shallow channels around the gulf near structures and feed mostly on shrimp, crab, and oysters near the muddy shores of the gulf. Because of this habitat they are sensitive to  temperature changes and increased barometric pressure. This means extreme weather makes them run to deeper water making it more challenging to be caught by the fisherman in the flat-bottom fishing boats they use. During winter storm Uri the Drum populations became almost non-existent. Following that storm was the beginning of hurricane season and tropical depressions that brought weeks of rainy days and then we rolled into the heat wave we are currently experiencing. All of this to paint a picture of the stress that these animals have been under and why it’s making it hard to catch enough to keep up with demand.
 Due to all these factors we, as a leadership team, decided to move to a catfish dish for the summertime. Austin is, after all, an inland city and sourcing from the Gulf is a luxury that only became apparent during the pandemic when the luxury was no longer there. Our catfish is farmed nearby in Texas and is not as affected by the weather in the Gulf of Mexico. Rest assured that every time we place an order with our seafood distributor we inquire about the status of Black Drum and it’s availability and when they believe it should level out. I know how important this dish is to our community here and I want to provide the people with the things that make them happy. As soon as our weather becomes even a little bit predictable and the fisherman get back to fishing we will restore the Fish and Chips to it’s fabled glory and good times will be had by all. I hope this was informational and we appreciate the understanding of all our guests when dining with us at Black Star.
Salud.

Members Assembly and Thirsty Thursday

It has been quite the 18 months hasn’t it my friends! But this month as
the Austin sun returns to bake our fair city, we have an opportunity to
celebrate all that we have: our resilience, our humanity, our co-op, our
cold beer and our member owners!

In recognition of all that we have endured, BSCO would like to thank and
recognize all the members who have persevered with us in recent times
with a celebratory event, happy hour and social. Let’s get together,
review the state of the business, pull some (free for members) pitchers
from behind the bar, snack on some chips, and feel just a little bit of
that stress float away.

You are invited at 6pm on Thursday July 1st to join us at BSCO to meet
with your fellow member/owners as well as the worker assembly and board
members. We shall review the annual report, conduct feedback activities
relevant to the operation of your co-op, hear the vision the kitchen,
beer and business teams have for the coming year, and drink a beer or
two. Or three (responsibly).

We recognize that as our membership grows, we should not limit this
event to only those within reach of the pub. We alas, cannot post you a
beer, but I shall set up a zoom link so that you can chat questions and
have your say with regards to the operation of your co-op. Please email
me at graham.green@blackstar.coop for login information with subject
line “Thirsty Thursday”.

Many thanks and all the best. See you on July 1st @ 6PM.

Worker Spotlight: Oscar Perez

  1. What position do you work?
    Line cook.
  2. How long have you been cooking and where?
    I’ve worked in many places over the last 20yrs: cafés, delis, bakeries, etc. The last place I worked was for a butchery deli in upstate New York.
  3. Where are you from?
    I grew up on Long Island. I moved to Austin in Feb 2019 from upstate New York, drawn here by the music scene. Upstate and the Hudson River area is beautiful! I lived there for about 3 ½ years and I loved it. But I needed a change of place – somewhere with a good music scene – so I packed up and headed to Austin. I didn’t know anyone when I first got here, but I immediately started going around town and getting into the music and art, and all that the city had to offer.
  4. What do you do outside of work with your free time? (Or what do you imagine yourself doing if pandemic restrictions weren’t in place?)
    I’m a musician. I’ve sung and played guitar solo and in
    bands for about 20yrs. I’ve played all kinds of music and
    really like heavy rock when I can do it with a band.
    Recently, I’ve been working on my own music – mostly
    singer-song writer stuff. I had planned to do some
    studio recording of my songs this summer but the
    COVID-19 shutdown kind of put that on hold. But we
    deal with what we’ve got and so I’ve been focusing on
    using my time and forced isolation for writing songs and
    poetry. Before the shutdown I used to like to go to places like
    the Spider House café and listen to poetry slams or go try out my music at open mic nights at places like The Cactus Café.
  5. What do you enjoy about Black Star Co-op?
    I really like the openness in the way the employees work together and run the business. There’s a lot of flexibility and everyone really helps each other out. Some places I’ve worked in the past there were maybe some personalities that clashed and caused tension, but the employees here get along well and pitch in to do what’s needed.
  6. What is your favorite house beer? One of the benefits of working for a brewpub is getting the occasional beer shot during the shift, so when I’m working, Midtown Light is my choice to keep things light and easy. Outside of work, I really like Fructis. It has a really nice hoppiness and flavor. I’m also enjoying Roze Sap lately. I’m not usually into sour beers, but it won me over.
  1. What’s one fun or unusual thing about working on the Black Star kitchen team?
    Honestly, the main thing is how everyone helps each other out – it really creates a good environment. It’s also fun to work in kitchen that changes up the menu seasonally and where you can experiment sometimes to add variety. One dish I created that we offered recently is the honey mustard chicken sandwich. The first week, we didn’t have pickles, so I topped it with thin cucumber slices, which turned out pretty good. But if you haven’t had the chance to try it with pickles, I suggest you do. I think it really makes it that much better.
  2. The kitchen team is known for working with a soundtrack. What is one of your go-to songs or bands when you’re getting things done?
    Hard to pick a single song, but my go-to band is one from Australia called King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Literally anything from their album Infest the Rats Nest is guaranteed to get me
    going when things need to get done.
  3. Any Last words to the co-op members?
    I just want to say that you have a really good thing going with Black Star Co-op. It’s a unique place in terms of both what it offers and how it operates. I think as the current pandemic concerns ease it will continue to grow into a great Austin spot.

Fresh Haps: What’s New at Black Star

Hey Everyone,

Just a quick update on changes that are happening this week, as well as a few exciting things we have on the horizon.

Extended Hours: Black Star will now be open from Noon-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Although we are still only operating Thursday – Sunday, we’re excited to get you the beer and grub you crave for both lunch/brunch and dinner on the weekends.

New Food Items: Our new Head Chef, Jeff Harper has put together some awesome Cook Em Yourself Kits that you can purchase on the spot. Take & Shake Fish Fry Kits feeds 2 and includes Gulf caught black drum, seasoned breadcrumb mixture, seasoned chips, and house aioli. $24, available Thursday – Sunday. English Breakfast Kits also feed 2 and include farm fresh eggs, house breakfast sausage, baked beans, arugula and tomato salad, and Easy Tiger toast. $18, available Saturday and Sunday.

Upcoming Beer Release: Lots to look forward to! Listed below are all upcoming beer releases, and their potential release dates:

Waterloo & Watermelon Waterloo: July 30th (Maybe sooner!)

Black is Beautiful: Mid August. A portion of proceeds will benefit Austin Justice Coalition

Special Reserves: Mid-August, keep an eye out.

Moebius: TBD, but it’s coming…

Merch Sale: We’re sitting on way too much winter inventory, so we’ve dropped some prices and encourage you to grab these babies while we got em. Mustard Hoodies $55 now $45. Red Acid Wash Tees $25 now $15. Beanies $19 now $10. Stock up now, you’ll thank yourself later.

Worker Spotlight: Jeff Harper

We (virtually) sat down with Black Star’s new head chef to find out a little more about him.

  1. What’s your earliest food memory?
    Once while playing at my Grandparent’s driveway, I fell and scuffed my knees. I came into the house, crying, with blood running down my leg, looking for comfort and my mom had just pulled fresh
    cinnamon rolls out of the oven. Trying to calm me down they offered me things like band-aides or water but instead I said through the tears, “A cinnamon roll would make my knee stop hurting.” 
  2. Who has influenced your cooking the most?
    Definitely my mother via her biggest influence which was her Grandmother. 
  3. What’s your favorite go-to ingredient or is there an ingredient you use a lot that would surprise people?
    Ginger. Most often, when friends or family really like something and can’t exactly place the flavor they like, it’s ginger.
  4. Do you have any signature dishes?
    Scrambled eggs. 🙂
  5. If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?
    White House chef for Teddy Roosevelt
  6. Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?
    My first job in the kitchen (after deciding to change my career path and cook full time) was the opening prep-cook at the original Second Bar + Kitchen and it was my job to open in the morning and fry all of the chips for the day. My first day solo I forgot to close the drain
    valves on the fryers before filling them with oil. I spent two hours soaking up oil with rags and never said a word to anyone. When Jason Stude arrived and asked why the floor was oily, I just put my head down and chopped zucchini. 
  7. What would we find in your kitchen at home?
    Cast iron skillets, and air fryer (trust me), and A LOT of pastry/cake decorating equipment. My girlfriend is an incredibly talented pastry chef. 
  1. Most memorable meal?

I was lucky enough to travel abroad to Ecuador in my early twenties and went fishing with
some guys off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. I caught a Bluefin Tuna and the guys
from the boat came over that night and we built a fire in the street and everyone within
earshot came over and we carved that tuna to the bone cooking it over open fire, dousing it
with beer, even eating sashimi right off the fresh fish. Unforgettable experience. 

  1. What food is your guilty pleasure?
    Beef jerky.
  2. What been your pandemic staple meal or comfort food? 
    Knock-off Alamo Drafthouse popcorn paired with a movie from their streaming service.  
  3. What do you do outside of work with your free time? (Or what do you imagine
    yourself doing if pandemic restrictions weren’t in place?)
    Tend to a small farm in Oak Hill that a friend owns, fishing, various tinkering projects,
    drumming, etc. 
  4. Any Last words as the new kitchen team leader of Black Star?
    “When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Covid – 19 Update

In accordance with the City of Austin, State of Texas, and the US Federal Government, Black Star Co-op is currently operating for to-go only food and alcohol sales. As we navigate this difficult situation, we are remain cautious yet dedicated to providing our community with the highest quality of food and drinks that you have come to know and love.

The current situation remains fluid, and our menu and hours may adjust on a day to day basis. Currently, we will be open with a full (semi adjusted) lunch and dinner menu from 11am – 9pm daily. Please check in for daily updates here at our website, or on any of our social media platforms.

Curbside pickup is now available, so feel free to call ahead for food and/ or beer. We are doing our best to minimize contact and respect sanitization practices as directed by the CDC and COA.

We appreciate the support that we have already received from our regular patrons, member-owners, and the community at large. Please stay safe, and continue to support your friendly neighborhood brewpub if you are able.

Best of luck, everyone.

Summer Menu

This past Monday (July 1st), we were excited to release our newest menu changes for the summer months. Our new Kitchen Team Leader, Damien Lawrence, wanted to focus on a fresh, light menu for the hottest part of the year. For the first time in Black Star’s history we will be consolidating the lunch and dinner menu into one static menu that will be available all day long, so you won’t miss out on any of the dishes no matter what time you come in. A few highlights for this menu change are:


– Catch of the Day: a rotating seared fish dish with seasonal vegetables and basmati rice

– Fried Avocado Tacos: two beer battered avocados, dressed arugula, pickled red onion, corn tortillas

– Wings are on the menu! Both fried chicken and vegan wings tossed in house buffalo sauce, with a rotating selection of additional sauces.

– Fried Cheese Curds, Bangers and Mash, and Shrimp and Grits are gone 🙁

  • The Impossible Burger has switched to The Beyond Burger due to ongoing availability issues. We will do our best to get the Impossible whenever we can, but we are (as we know many of you are) pretty disappointed about this shortage.


We will still have a separate Brunch Menu Saturday and Sunday. Changes include:


– Chicken and Waffles is now Chicken and Grits

– Quiche with Seasonal Vegetables and Cheese

– Avocado Toast now on the brunch menu! This item will be super modifiable/customizable.

 – Quarter English and Tri-tip and Eggs both gone 🙁


We hope everyone enjoys this new menu as much as we do. We look forward to your feedback, and we’ll see you at the pub soon!

Welcome, Damian! Our Fearless New Kitchen Team Leader

We are beyond excited to announce our new Kitchen Team Leader, Damian Lawrence. Although Damian has been with Black Star for over a year now, he has recently stepped into a leadership role to much acclaim from patrons and co-workers alike.

Born and raised in the Carolinas, Chef Damian has an 18 year long history in the service industry. From fine dining to food truck experience, his culinary journey has led to a strong focus on seafood, developing amazing vegan recipes, all while adding little bit of sweet and spice to all of his dishes. His past 8 years in Austin has inspired a strong love for Texas style cooking, while the local community has allowed for many collaborations with chefs and friends alike.

Buy a beer shot and raise a glass to this guy the next time you see him through the window!